My name is Solomon Keal. I am a minister for the General Church of the New Jerusalem, which is a Swedenborgian Christian denomination. These are some of my thoughts about the Lord, the symbolic meanings in the Bible, life after death, faith, charity, usefulness, loving the Lord and one's neighbor, the 2nd Coming, Swedenborg's Writings, and other theological stuff.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Loving our Neighbors in Heaven
In the doctrines of our church there is the concept that when we read the literal sense of the Word, whether we understand it or not, it makes the angels happy. For a long time I have struggled with the concept. Isn’t the purpose of reading the Word for us to gain an understanding of the Lord and His Truths? Why does it matter if it makes the angels happy, if it doesn’t do anything for our own spiritual lives? And while I still believe that reading the Word with understanding is preferable and should be the goal, I have gained a new perspective on the additional use of angels being made happy by the reading of the Word, even if it is without our own understanding. It comes down to this: loving the neighbor. Reading the Word makes the angels happy, and this is good because it is an expression of love to the neighbor. The angels are our neighbors! And this scenario helps to illustrate two important truths of our church: 1. That the angels are people like us, and that thus they fall into the category of the ‘neighbor.’ And 2. that the angels are present with us, here and now, as opposed to being distant and ‘up’ in Heaven. Heaven is all around us, and therefore Heaven’s residents are our neighbors. Heaven is full of people, and thus we should love them as we are commanded to love all our neighbors. I find that often I believe that angels don’t need our love. After all they have other angels to love them; and in a much more perfect capacity than we are often capable of loving people. But here on earth we provide a very important function in that we are the foundation of Heaven. We ‘ground’ the Heavens. And even though we are not as regenerate as the angels are, we are capable of serving them as our neighbors. This includes reading the literal sense of the Word here on Earth. That is one of the ways which we can express love for our neighbors in Heaven.