FAITH
The world as path to heaven
by Fr. Roy Cimagala

BIBLICAL literature presents two opposing views on the world. One is hating it or at least be cautious of it, as in “What shall it profit a man, if he gains the whole, and suffer the loss of his soul? (Mk 8,36)

Church Fathers have enlarged that view as typified by some words of St. Ignatius of Antioch: “No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest…Do not talk about Jesus Christ as long as you love this world.”

The other view is to love the world, because God himself loves it, as in “For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believes in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting.” (Jn 3,16)

I am sure that after stirring our mind a bit, we can see that both views can be made compatible if we consider the contexts in which they are mentioned. We have to hate the world insofar as it has absorbed our own sinfulness and has become a source of temptation and sin itself to us.

But we also have to love it because in the first place it is also a creation of God like ourselves, and therefore is good, since everything God created is good. The world is also good because that is where God has placed us to work out our free choice of whether we want to be God’s image and likeness and children of his as we wants us to be, or not.

In other words, the world is a place of trial, of making our choice to be with God or not. It can be a path to heaven or a path to hell. It would really depend on us as to how we deal with the world. But as it is, it is originally good, though it has suffered some damage and corruption due to our sin.

It’s important that we don’t get confused and lost in this very nuanced attitude we ought to have toward the world. We have to outgrow the simplistic all-or-nothing mindset that forces us to choose whether we are for the world or against it.

As a creation of God, everything in it can and should actually lead us to him. Nothing in it is non-relatable to God. Everything in it comes from him and belongs to him. There is no dead spot in it where God is absent or irrelevant.

Our sciences, arts and technologies can only discover the laws and the ways of nature that have been created by God. We do not create these natural laws. We just discover them and make use of them.

As such, we have to at least thank God for whatever usefulness we can find in the things of the world. But more than that, we should try to discern how the things of this world play in the all-embracing providence of God over his creation, since we also have a role to play in that providence. God somehow makes us as his living and loving instruments in governing the world.

This is where we can say that the things of the world can and should lead us to heaven. And even if the world has absorbed the effects of our sins, it need not pose as an insurmountable problem to us since it has already been redeemed by Christ.

If we follow the teaching and example of Christ, we would also know how to deal with the world that is now immersed in sin. Yes, like Christ, we have to suffer and all that, but it is all worthwhile. Anyway, as long as we truly identify ourselves with Christ, we would also know how to suffer the way Christ suffered and died for us.

In a way, we have reason to passionately love the world, rather than being afraid and overcautious of it. If we have the love of God for the world, there is nothing to be afraid of. Victory is assured over all the negative things that can arise in our earthly sojourn.

We just have to acquire the mind and the spirit of Christ, his will and his ways, which he actually gives in abundance through his grace. If we pray, study the doctrine, develop the virtues, avail of the sacraments, do apostolate, etc., the world can truly be our path to heaven.


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