It is presumptuous to think I know what happens after death, but speculations matter. Many get their perspective about God by hearing or wondering what their Creator does with their children after life here on earth. Similarly, many form opinions about God by asking why a loving God allows so much suffering here on earth. Why doesn’t a loving Creator as least interfere more during horrific evils? Wrong impressions can lead to wrong assumptions about God. We can speculate because the Bible doesn’t say a great deal about heaven.
The Bible suggests all face God one day for an accounting of their deeds – good and bad (Mt: 12:36, Rom. 14:10, 2 Cor. 5:10, Heb.9:27). We don’t know what will take place during meeting with our Creator. We do know no one will be banished to a place of eternal torturing as Hell is a myth and simply doesn’t exist in the Bible. Most humans much less a loving God wouldn’t think that up. Paul does give hope to those on earth who many need it in times of persecution that heaven awaits (Philip. 3:20). The Bible may not discuss a great deal about the afterlife as such a focus can lead to more of a passive than active approach while living on earth. Some things left up to our imaginations may be more satisfying.
What one believes about life after death can influence their relationship with God while on earth. One traditional Christian understanding is that Jesus came to earth for the purpose of saving us from Hell. But, Hell is a not a translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words but a made up word and thus its meaning. It is taught Jesus came to die on a Cross to appease God’s sense of justice rather than to convey God’s desire to influence us for our own good. A legal versus a relationship understanding of the Cross are very different and give different impressions about God’s purposes and wishes.
I have suggested other possible views of God and Jesus’ purposes in coming to earth. The Bible gives us no reason to think God will not show mercy and give all a second chance when meeting their Creator. We will witness who God really is and false human interpretations will be revealed. The Bible gives us reason to think that the Cross was less about God’s concern with guilt and restoring honor and more about desiring a personal relationship. Jesus longed for us to avoid paths of destructions that lead to regrets. Jesus walked in our shoes so we could know He understands what we are facing in a free world. That is crazy love!
God has always respected freedom of beliefs here on earth and the life to come, unlike religious extremists. God has always known controlling or destroying free, moral decisions cannot result in true love. True love can never be forced. Jesus didn’t come to overpower others though He could have. Fear-based theology is a misguided attempt to control our behaviors to produce unselfishness. God know wants every parent desires and that is for their children to freely reciprocate their love as opposed to being forced.
Certain traditional understandings of God and what I am suggesting are obviously different and may determine the depth of our relationship with God or if we even desire such a relationship. God pursued a friendship rather than demanding obedience, as closer relationships are what inspire and empower us to be the kind of persons we deep down truly want to be. God’s encouragement and mercy is our necessary nourishment which can lead to life transformations and help facing the challenges of a unfriendly world. It matters if God is portrayed as seeking a friendship or only reverence and worship. Many earthly parents don’t demand respect, though deserved, because they understand what is most loving.