You’ve probably seen or heard about those fitness apps that tell you the caloric content of the food you eat and the calories burned off by various activities. That kind of information can be really helpful if you’re trying to lose weight or get in better shape. These programs give you clear, concise information that indicates exactly what you’ve done and what you need to do to reach your desired goal. I’ve often wished there were similar rules for our ultimate goal of going to heaven. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app for that?
Think about it: We know what we need to be doing. We can read the Gospels and see pretty clearly the rules that Jesus set out for us. Forgive, love, and help people — to name a few. But sometimes it’s hard to apply Gospel principles to our lives and we fail. So, we go to confession and receive absolution and grace. But we also know that even though our sin is forgiven, we still have to pay the piper, so to speak. The punishment attached to that sin remains. The best explanation I heard for this is a simple analogy. If a kid throws a ball and breaks a window at the neighbor’s house, they go and apologize and they’re completely forgiven by the neighbor. But the child still needs to make it right by paying for the window repair. There’s still a consequence for the broken window. Even though our sin is completely forgiven, we still have a consequence, which we believe is what purgatory is all about. I sure would like to know how I’m doing with all of this!
This is why I think an app, let’s call it the Heaven app, would be awesome! Let’s say, in a moment of total exasperation I accidentally take the Lord’s name in vain. I enter that into the Heaven app and see what kind of purgatory time I’m looking at for that sin. Now, let’s assume that the reason I’m exasperated in the first place is that I’m late for an appointment because I stopped to help a homeless person. The app would give me points for that that would reduce my time in purgatory.
The whole Heaven app seemed like a great idea to me, so I talked it over with the Lord during Adoration one night. He gently revealed a few flaws in my thinking. The first problem I realized is that no one is capable of writing such a thing because no one really knows what judgment will look like. Sure, there are things we suspect or maybe have heard theorized by people, but the reality is that no one knows for sure how the process will go down. The second problem God planted in my head is that He doesn’t want us to think of Him as a scorekeeper. God wants us to love Him and feel His love so much that we can’t help but share it with everyone we encounter. He doesn’t want us to do good things just to make up for not-so-good things we’ve done. He wants us to live out our faith and share the blessings we receive because we’re overflowing with them, not because we’re keeping a tally.
So, while I still think it would be nice to know how I’m doing in God’s eyes, I’ve realized it’s far more important to live like I could find out any minute. God’s mercy is far beyond anything we could program, and His love is more immense than any amount of storage could contain. The point is to continue trying to be more like God every day so when we do meet Him at our judgment, He sees Himself in us.
Copyright 2019 Michelle Jones Schroeder