Entering the Good Place

November 8th, 2016

A new comedy TV series starring Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop recently aired on NBC. In the series opener, Eleanor wakes up in what looks like a college admissions office. There, she realizes from Michael (Ted Danson), her facilitator, that she is actually dead and is now in an afterlife known as “The Good Place.” She quickly discovers that others believe she earned her way there because of her work getting innocent inmates off death row and through her humanitarian work. However, a mistake has been made: Eleanor never did those things. Shortly after entering The Good Place, Eleanor is introduced to Chidi, her assigned soul mate. Chidi is a moral ethics professor who tries to help Eleanor become good so she can earn her spot and stay in The Good Place.

The way in

Through a Christian lens the show is full of bad theology. But it does prompt a great theological question: Who gets into heaven — and how? According to The Good Place, every positive and negative human action is calculated, and only those with the highest scores of goodness are allowed entrance. Eleanor knows she’s not good enough to be in The Good Place, but she argues that this doesn’t necessarily mean she is bad enough for the bad place, either. She explains, “I should get to spend eternity in a medium place, like Cincinnati!”

The truth about salvation

Most of us tend to think like Eleanor. We know we aren’t perfect, but how good is good enough to get into heaven? The truth is nobody is good enough to make it into heaven based on their individual good works. Perhaps most of us believe we should go to heaven because we aren’t as bad as others. However, God reminds us throughout Scripture that we do not get into heaven by our good works. Our entrance into heaven depends on our faith in Jesus and fully believing Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead. This belief is transformative and inspires us to do good works in order to show God’s love to others, not to gain entrance into heaven.

Question of the day: Who gets into heaven?
Focal scriptures: Romans 3:9-19; Ephesians 2:1-10; James 2:14-26

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

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