Non-Christians, or People Outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

One Morning I heard a far off chorus. I could tell from images of the chorus that they were Chinese, since they presented to view a kind of woolly goat and a cake of millet and an ebony spoon, as well as an image of a floating city. They were eager to come closer to me, and when we were together they said that they wanted to be alone with me in order to disclose their thoughts. They were told, however, that we were not alone, and that the others were offended that they wanted to be alone, since they were guests. When they perceived this feeling of offense in their thoughts, their mood changed, since they transgressed against a neighbor, and since they had claimed as their own something that belonged to others (in the other life, all our thoughts are shared). I was enabled to perceive their distress of mind. It involved a recognition that they might have injured them, and a sense of shame on that account, along with other emotions characteristic of honest people, so that you could tell they were endowed with thoughtfulness.

I talked with them shortly afterward, and eventually mentioned the Lord. When I called him “Christ,” I could sense a kind of resistance in them. The reason for this was uncovered, though. This derived from their experience in the world, from their having known that Christians lived worse lives than they did, lives devoid of thoughtfulness. When I simply mentioned “the Lord,” though, they were deeply moved. Later they were taught by angels that Christian doctrine more than any other in the whole world demands love and thoughtfulness, but that there are not many people who live up to it.

There are non-Christian individuals who during their early lives have learned by hearsay that Christians live evil lives–lives of adultery, hatred, bickering, drunkenness, and the like–which appalled them because things like this are contrary to their religion. In the other life they are particularly hesitant about accepting truths of faith. However, they are taught by angels that the Christian doctrine and the faith itself teach something very different, but that Christians do not live up to their doctrine as much as non-Christian people do. When they grasp this, they accept truths of faith and worship the Lord, but only after quite a while.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 325

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