Morals and Ethics

Are morals and ethics necessary?

Revelation 21:1, NRSV

             As a Christian, what on earth am I here for? I’m not asking so much of an existential question, as one that is theological. If I believe in Jesus Christ and I am saved by faith rather than by works, then my ultimate hope is to return to my true home in heaven with the One who created me. However, what am I to do between my second birth in Christ and my eventual death? Am I simply buying time until the moment comes for me to cross the bar? Does what I do now and how I act in this life have any impact on the life to come? I realize these are pretty heady questions yet they scratch at my initial inquiry. What on earth am I here for? In other words, does our behavior matter?

            The answer depends on one’s view of eternity. If you believe that the final stop for all Christians is heaven and you cannot reach this destination by your works, then you’d be hard pressed to make a case in which morals and ethics matter much. However, if you believe as Scripture teaches that God’s end game is to restore heaven and earth to reflect the glory of creation’s original design, then what you do in the here-and-now matters. John the Apostle wrote, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…” (Revelation 21:1, NRSV). John was taken to heaven when he wrote these words. What he saw was a future in which heaven and earth combined as God, through Christ, returned to live with human beings face-to-face.

            The prophets of old claimed that this New Kingdom would be a place where the wolf lies down with the lamb and the calf and the lion live together in harmony. All of creation will know peace. Wars will cease. Sin shall desist. No person will go hungry. This is the world God, even now, is creating.

            So, back to my original question: What on earth am I here for? The straight forward answer is to anticipate this new world when it finally arrives. I want to live now the way I will live in that day. Just like Joey Votto who anticipates where a hitter might hit the ball next, I wish to lean toward an ethic that reflects the future right here in the present moment. I want to love people now the way God will have me loving people then. I want to serve now the way I will be asked to serve then. I want to order my thoughts and behaviors now the way I will have them ordered then.

            So, what on earth am I here for? I am here to prepare for the rest of life; and, by the way, I wouldn’t mind having lots of company join me on the way.