A year ago, NBC aired the finale of their show The Good Place, a sitcom about heaven. I haven’t watched any of it, so this post isn’t a commentary on the specifics of the show, but rather a commentary on the name that conveys a popular view on heaven. The idea is that when you die, you want to go to the Good Place, the place where there is no pain or death, you never age, and only good things happen. Sign me up!
But what happens in the Good Place when two men want to marry the same woman and receive her full affection, but only one of them can? What happens when two people want the same job, but only one person can have it? What happens when someone will only be happy if they have more than their neighbor, and their neighbor feels the same way?
These problems are on the micro, individual relationship level, but there are similar problems on the macro level. The root issue is our desire for control.
Two weeks ago, I wrote that sin is rebellion against God as Lord, and I said this:
“But God has simply given us what we want. We want to live apart from God and rule ourselves, so God doesn’t force us to submit to Him.”
Not only do we want to rule ourselves, but we also want to rule others, and when we rejected God, God gave us what we wanted, left the scene, and created a power vacuum. History is the ensuing tragedy of humanity seeking to fill that vacuum, no matter the destruction. In the Good Place, have we magically lost our desire to rule? If not, the Good Place would echo history as another tragedy, but now with no death, it would be an eternal power struggle – sounds like hell to me.
The reality is that in our current state, we are not fit to live in the Good Place. Our happiness would only come at the expense of those around us – our selfishness would ruin everything. If we want heaven to be a reality, if we want there to be a Good Place, then we need to be fundamentally transformed.
Is this transformation possible? If so, how does it happen? We will answer these questions next week.