The Kingdom and the Gnashing of Teeth

I am not the lead role of my own movie. I am not the hero, the villain, the star, or the protagonist. I am not a supporting role, or a comic relief (though I do think I am hilarious), and there are two main reasons why. Life is not a movie, and the world does not revolve around me. It is easy for people who live in the West to start to look at their life in this way because of the media centered culture we’ve created. We all like to be entertained and there is nothing wrong with leisure time or spending it watching, listening, or engaging in stories. However, I have a tendency to look at myself as a good guy, someone who is innocent of any real harm, even though I know it’s not true.

When I was younger, Junior High School age, I used to believe that I was destined for heaven because I never did anything that made me deserve to go do Hell. I looked at Hell as a place of punishment that you earned your way into by doing bad things and being mean to people. Since I hadn’t done anything to deserve eternal damnation for my soul then naturally I wouldn’t go to Hell. The problem with that logic is that not earning a trip to Hell means earning a trip to heaven. But where’s the line? I’m not a thief, or a murderer so I go to heaven? I murdered someone, but I’m not Hitler so I shouldn’t deserve going to Hell, at least not the same Hell and someone who committed genocide. So, I guess now there must be many levels of Hell? A really bad place for the Hitlers of the world, a not quite as bad place for the mass murderers and serial killers, a different bad place for murderers, one for the liars and thieves, a medium place for the normal average people who told a couple of lies, parked in disabled spots without a placard… I could go on, but, it is already past the point of ridiculous isn’t it? Now I know there are people who think there should be a special place in Hell for disabled parking violators but maybe that’s just as absurd.

I believe this line of reasoning is what has led a lot of people to come to the conclusion that there is no heaven, there is no hell, there is just nothing. We came from nothing and after this life there will be nothing. Bleak, isn’t it? Now, whether something is bleak or not, should not be a determining factor for a system of belief. However, it is presumptuous to think that just because we do not remember anything that may have happed before our entrance into this life that nothing must exist after we exit. When it comes to complex and confusing things I don’t understand, I turn to the words of Jesus who was either the Son of God, or a stark raving madman (hint, it’s the former).

Matthew 8:12 “‘But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

Matthew 13:42 “‘They [Gods’ angles] will throw them [everything that causes sin and those who do evil] into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

Matthew 24:51 “‘He [the Master] will cut him [the wicked servant] in pieces and assign him a place it’s the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

Matthew 25:30 ‘“And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”

Luke 13:27-28 “‘But He will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping there and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets is the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.’”

These are five examples of Jesus Himself talking about what happens after life. It’s important to note that these excerpts all come from parables and to better understand the passages it is best to read them all in context. For now, let’s just look at this. One of these five speaks of a fiery furnace, one speaks of being cut to pieces, one speaks of darkness, four speak of being thrown out, and all five mention weeping and gnashing of teeth. So, what can we take from this? Let’s break it down. Being thrown into a furnace and being cut into bits are very different but the result is the same, destruction. Whatever is burned or cut to pieces no longer lives and no longer remains in its previous state of existence. So, these two spell out the total destruction that awaits those who are separated from God at the end of this life. Meanwhile, the casting out into darkness and seeing into the kingdom speaks to an existence separate from God but not complete destruction. But in all of it there is this weeping and gnashing of teeth going on that tells us, “you don’t want any part in this”.

If we read the entirety of these parables we see that there is a way to earn your place in the Kingdom and that is by loving God and loving people all the time. Doing this is spelled out for us in the 10 commandments and other parts of the law of Moses. However, over time we have learned that fulfilling these laws every moment of every day is actually impossible. That is why we needed Jesus and still need Him today. Because the truth is that we have not always shown love to those who love us, we have not been honest with others (or ourselves for that matter), we are not innocent victims. Sometimes we are the perpetrators.

We are not the lead role of our own movie. We are not the hero, the villain, the star, or the protagonist and there are two main reasons why. Life is not a movie, and the world is not a stage, it is all much more important than entertainment.

~ Curtis J. Perea

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