Avoiding Hell vs. Striving for Heaven

I recently listened to a high performance individual talk about the way they deal with goals. The basic takeaway was both simple and, at least to me, profound.

This individual suggested that we always strive to work towards a goal instead of away from something.

So, for example, instead of saying, “I want to get into the best shape of my life so I don’t die of a heart attack” this high performer suggests we change our mindset to something more like, “I want to get into the best shape of my life so I can do God’s will to the best of my ability.”

Sure, the statements are related but the heart attack phrase comes from a place of fear and, potentially, anxiety while the doing God’s will phrase comes from a place of hope and promise.

And from a spiritual perspective… are we trying to avoid the pains of hell or are we striving to spend eternity in heaven? This one is trickier since, obviously, hell is real and we need to fear ending up there.

But, at the same time, heaven is also real and if our eyes are constantly looking towards it and we never, ever, stop trying to reach it we’ll, God willing, have an excellent chance of meeting our life’s ultimate purpose.

Like many things I’m still pondering this mindset change and don’t pretend to have it all figured out. As such I’d really love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

So, if you’re reading this via email please click through to the website and scroll to the bottom of the article to leave a comment.  You can also reply to this email and we’ll add your comment to the article for others to read.

Specifically, if you were only allowed one statement would you say you’re trying to avoid the pains of hell or would you say you’re striving towards heaven?  Why?

Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!

6 thoughts on “Avoiding Hell vs. Striving for Heaven

  1. If I only had one choice I’d say “aim for heaven.” Life is full of negative energy so looking towards heaven gives me more peace and like you mentioned hope.

  2. So good Ron, thank you for posting this!

    I decided to start thinking this way about 4 months ago. It was right before I started Exodus 90, and I knew I needed a change in lifestyle as well as thinking.

    I had grown up in a very traditional church and I love it very much, but they have a tendency to focus on the negative. That way of thinking may be helpful for some, and of course we need to be aware of those things, but it wasn’t helping me advance.

    So I decided that instead of running away from the sins of my past, I was going to focus on developing virtues for the future and in striving to be the man I have to be…not who I was. That switch has really changed my intention as a Catholic. Coming out the other side of Exodus 90, I now have a better understanding of what it means to be a 21st century Catholic man and as I learn more about myself, I know what I need to do to be the best version of myself.

    Keep looking ahead, don’t get bogged down by the past. Learn from your mistakes, and move onto greater things.
    One of the things that brought this change for me was the Greek work EPEKTASIS (upward striving). You can learn more about it here: http://thebyzantineanglocatholic.blogspot.com/2012/03/gregory-of-nyssa-and-epektasis.html
    I think you’ll get a lot from it, and may think about writing a post on it.

    Thanks so much for spreading the word in a positive way! Keep it up! God Bless!

  3. I would pose a third option. The first two are common thoughts, but miss the “heart” of the gospel. “Are we trying to avoid the pains of hell or are we striving to enter heaven?” I would argue that Jesus came to give us a third option. Striving for forgiveness is Old Testament religion. Jesus completely fulfilled the Old Testament need to strive on the cross, releasing the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and allowing us to thrive. We thrive not because of what we do, but because of what He did. We now have continual access to the Father through Him that gives us the gateway to bring heaven to earth now. Therefore our focus should not be on how bad we are, but how great He is. Allowing us to walk in constant joy and truth in our intimacy with Him. Once a believer has received this truth, they are no longer sinners in need of a savior, but have been redeemed and set free. That is how God sees us.

  4. Love the dialogue! This view negates human freedom which God placed in our hearts to love and be redeemed. The flip side is that we have the freedom, daily, to deny God’s invitation. The doctrine of “once saved always saved” doesn’t take into account the whole picture which has been proclaimed by the Catholic Church since Christ walked the earth. What about Galations 5:19-21 (St. Paul is talking to believers)? It doesn’t mean that Christ’s sacrifice is not great enough, but rather that we are weak and must rely daily on Him in order to not fall back into our old ways (which is possible due to freedom).

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