Thursday, August 27, 2009


Bert Green was from the other side of town. We began competing against each other in YMCA basketball when we were in the 3rd grade and developed an animosity toward each other as 9 year olds. I didn’t like him. He didn’t like me. This rivalry continued into junior high. He was a Lee Rebel. I was a Lincoln Brave. That’s right, the president of the Union vs. the Confederate General.
When I was in the 8th grade, his mom got a job at Lincoln. As luck would have it, she was my Literature teacher. I didn’t like her. She was the mother of the enemy. My dislike for him increased. He was not only my athletic opponent; he was also the son of a bad teacher. It became a vicious cycle of dislike.
Our high schools didn’t compete against each other so during those years I found new enemies in far off places like Andrews and Big Spring, but Bert and I were destined to cross paths again.
I decided to follow Jesus when I was a sophomore (wise fool). Sometime during the next year I was attending a Christian youth rally and, much to my chagrin, Bert was in attendance. Turned out he was a Jesus lover too. I had a hard time reconciling this in my mind. I had only recently read the part where Jesus said “love your enemies” and there was one of them right in front of me. Was I really supposed to love him? I’d like to say that I called him brother, shook his hand, and went away friends with the guy, but I can’t. I “merely listened to the Word”, but didn’t “do what it said.”
That the experience humbled me, but it wasn’t the last time that I would judge someone as “good for nothin’” only to find out that Jesus saw value in them and was working in their lives.

I don’t remember how the subject came up, but sometime when Ryan and I were living in Nashville we began discussing King Solomon and whether he was damned to hell or reconciled with the Lord in heaven. Ryan (as he did in the comments section 3 posts ago) said that Solomon was in hell. I thought that since he had contributed to a chunk of the Bible that he must have made it through the pearly gates. I had always seen him as a friend while Ryan had viewed him as a traitor to the Lord. What do you think? Did Solomon forsake the love and eternal life found in the Lord when he took all of those foreign wives and their foreign gods or did he return to the arms of Jehovah in repentance? Will you see him in heaven?

I doubt that any believers reading this would question the eternal abode of St. Paul. I know he must be a citizen of heaven and I respect the work he did and his apostleship, but I’ve always felt that he was arrogant and no fun. From what I know of the two men I think I would rather hang out with Solomon than Paul.

I’ve found myself making excuses for Willie Nelson while condemning rap stars for similar transgressions.
J. Walling has probably led lots of folks to the Lord, but he made me mad one time and I haven’t respected him since.
God let Elijah shame and smite the priests of Baal, but chastised Jonah when he questioned God’s love of the Ninevites.
Please add your own contributions to this list of paradoxes in the comments section.

I believe in both the glory and pleasures of heaven and the eternal torment of hell. I believe that every soul will end up in one or the other. I know and am relieved that it is not me or any other man who decides who ends up where.

I tried to know every mystery,
But soon realized no,
It was too much for me.
Because most things true
Are simple and complex,
So it is with you.
What else should I expect?

Caedmon’s Call


Anonymous said...

I'm with you and glad that us humans don't have to decide who goes to Heaven or Hell.

Ryan Scott said...

Great post. I'm interested to see what your other readers think. I hope I am not right. It would be great to see Solomon in heaven.

The Northrups said...

Hmm. How does God deal with his servants prior to Jesus's sacrifice? He is both just and forgiving... which I can only understand when I see the savior. So did Christ die for those who came before him? There is some evidence that he did when we look at Elijah, etc. I figure Solomon was eligible for grace through Christ's sacrifice due to God's gift of wisdom and use of it in the lives of the generations to come; he sounds abit 'predestined' if you will.
But I guess another question is, if we find an answer we feel content with, how does that answer impact our today? Our relationship with our God now?
Isaiah 55:8 comes to mind: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.' I don't mean to use it outside of context, or to use the verse as an easy way out - but to suggest it as my answer. I would guess that Solomon is in heaven. I choose to trust God whether I'm right or wrong that His choice for the fate of Solomon was the only perfect choice. In chosing to trust God, I chose faith.

Jason said...

I know that I can't completely know the mind of God, but for some reason I expect him to be in Paradise. But it's a great post and a great post.

Anonymous said...

Paradoxes like the ones you named really challenge my faith. It was comforting when I heard Randy Harris, your old road trip friend, say the other day that the opposite of faith isn't doubt, it's apathy.

Like Jones, I enjoy rules and wish everything could be black and white so I would know where I stand. In some ways, the Old Testament stories seem more like that. Then again, we all fall short, so that's no good. In comes grace. Or was grace already in the picture? I guess that's really your question. It's a mystery to me. I generally think mysteries are frustrating, but lately I've been trying to be joyful and awed by them instead.


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