This is Zingcreed’s fourth ‘Question for all Christians.’ The others are listed below. So far there has not been a rush by believers to respond – you could be the first!
Today’s question is about motivation. Assuming your faith makes you a better person, a good person, then why is that? What is the mechanism involved? As a non-believer myself I would like to know what makes you tick. I know that one frequent answer to this question is “to go to heaven”. Let’s stick with this answer for a while. It must be a strong factor as the alternative would be to burn in hell, and no-one wants to do that. Of course heaven and hell are not unique to Christians and Jews. A Moslem guy in Turkey once put himself out for me, went the extra mile, for which I was extremely grateful. When I asked him why he had been so altruistic he said it was so that he would go to paradise. Was I silly to be shocked? Surely if it produces the right results, a kinder society, it cannot be a bad thing?
I don’t like heaven and hell, or any other reward and punishment, as motivators. It may be okay with little kids, as a kind of transitional stage, but adults deserve something better. Something not based on selfishness. If I only do good and avoid unsocial acts because I expect a reward at the end, then that is, in my view, a pathetic self-centred reason. What about empathy, about our common humanity, about our natural feelings of love and sympathy? We should try and put ourselves in other people’s shoes, and remember when considering the less fortunate members of society the words of the Joan Baez song “There but for fortune go you or I.” I prefer not to be helped by someone just trying to get brownie points so that they can get through those pearly gates, but perhaps this is being too idealistic, and if I am in hospital the doctors and nurses may be solely motivated by the thought of the next pay cheque! Is that any better?
No easy answers.
Related Zingcreed Posts:
544: Do dead men eat fish?
550: Who have you called a fox today?
566: Why are you rich?