FAITH IN FOCUS: THE BOOK OF LIFE
The idea of a book with the names of those to be admitted to heaven rings strangely in our modern ears. Rather than a leather-bound ledger we would probably have a data base of names, addresses and personal details kept on computer disk or CD.
But when Daniel speaks of this book he is echoing in ancient terms the same situation that still applies today. Men and women still seek a meaning to life, to their actions, their choices, their ultimate hopes and dreams. And, just like us today, Daniel points out that God gives us the freedom to behave in any way we choose in this world, as long as we know that our conduct affects our eternal future.
It’s easy for Christians to get caught up in the here and now values of our world. Although society values great acts of personal heroism and admires people who make sacrifices for the benefit and development of others, it still is firmly fixated on the transient, on a passing view of life. Just look at the TV adverts to see what you are supposed to be aiming for. Most are about comfort, luxury and image. You’ve really made it when you have a beautiful person on your arm, can wear the latest designer products and drive the fastest of cars. You are judged by what passes for success.
Yet the gospel tells us that we are judged by how we treat others and how close we try to come to knowing and loving God. As the Church’s year draws to a close we remember once more that the values we seek are kingdom values which turn the world’s standards on their head.
If our names are to appear in the Book of Life then it will be because we allowed ourselves to respond to the inner promptings of God’s Spirit, because we took Christ’s teaching and his promises seriously enough to act on them.
And just in case we get sucked into thinking that God is so kind that everything will turn out fine whatever sort of lives we lead, we are reminded that God values our free will so much that he lets us choose to opt out of his plan of salvation.
God is the last one who would force us to behave in a way that we did not want to. His final judgement is real, and we are helping him to make it day by day.