A couple of weeks ago I was riding a jeepney on my way home from school, it was already around ten in the evening. The guy who was sitting in front of me kept smiling at my direction. It felt weird. I thought he was flirting at me.
Several minutes later another passenger boarded the jeep and sat beside me, he smiled at that guy too. So with the next passenger to board, he smiled at that guy too. And the next. And the next.
That caused several alarm bells ringing.
Was this guy insane?!
Why does he keep on smiling!!?
Is he on drugs and as high in the sky as a bird on steroids?!
Why does he keep on smiling!!?
Is he planning to rob the jeep????
WHY . . . DOES . . . HE . . . KEEP . . . ON . . . FUCKING . . . SMILING!?
I was seriously starting to freak out. Sweat was already pouring in every orifice that it could discharge from. My armpits were like a marsh of wetness. Even my crotch started to sweat!
A couple more passengers boarded the jeep. Then all of a sudden, and with his ridiculously scary grin still on, his hand reached deep inside the bag on his lap!
This time I was not only sweating, I was shaking in fear. The only thing in my head that time was: “What’s inside the bag!? What’s inside the bag!? What’s inside the fucking bag!? Oh please Lord! Let it not be a gun!”
It seemed that everything’s in slowmotion. I hardly heard anything. My eyes were rooted to the hand inside the bag.
The hand moved sluggishly slow. Irritatingly slow. Terrifyingly slow. Horror movie kind of slow, when the soon to be victim slowly reached out to the doorknob of the room where the scary noise came from.
His hand moved inch by slow moving inch, till I could only see his wrist.
He was definitely holding something.
I was no longer just freaked out. My fear meter was already way beyond the red. I was already deliriously feverish with fear.
His hands were completely out. I shut my eyes, fearing the worst.
This is it.
I waited for him to declare a holdup.
And waited. . .
And waited some more. . .
My curiosity got the better of me. I could no longer take the suspense.
I slightly opened my eyes to sneak a peek.
He is definitely holding something.
But it was not a gun.
It was a small bundle of paper – a bundle of pamphlets.
“Excuse me, sir, ma’am! Good Evening po! I am Christopher. We would just like to give some pamphlets about Jesus Christ our savior. We must have faith in him so that we will be saved” said the guy in heavy Filipino english, his grating smile still on, while distributing his pamphlets.
I was flabbergasted. I just gaped at him and my eyes just bulged.
I didn’t know I was holding my breath; I exhaled. Quick sharp successive breaths.
I did not know what to do. Should I be angry because of the needless trauma I just experience? Should I be thankful because he is not a gun totting robber?
Having nothing better to do and feeling totally drained I sat back and listened to what he has to say. I thought that I owe him at least that much for thinking badly of him.
He talked about the greatness of God for awhile, complete with all the bible quotations. Then, followed by a short sermon on the need to repent in our wrong doings and to seek salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, also complete with bible quotations. And that we should do good for us to go to heaven, also complete with bible quotations, and so on, and so on, and so on. . . . all complete with bible quotations.
After thanking us for our time and for listening, he got off the jeep.
Just like most people who got a free sermon from evangelists while riding a public transportation, I just let it pass through my ears at that time. I only got to thinking about what he said several days later.
“We should do good, to have heaven as our reward!” Those were his words or somewhere along those lines. My memory is as rusty as a . . . as aaah. . . (I can’t really find some poetic words to fit into it so let us just go for something like. . .) “as rusty as a rusty nail”, but those words kinda stuck to my head for some reason.
It stuck like a bad case of herpes. It rolled around my head for some time,wanting to get scratched. It itches for some attention. Wanting to be noticed, needing to be given some consideration.
So here I am scratching that itch.
If you haven’t detected it yet let me be of help in some way, from one man who hates reading about sticky and gooey “goodness and heaven and anything in between” to the other. This is not just a story about my jeepney ride; this is about me trying to scratch my itch, this is about me writing about goodness and heaven and anything in between.
So if you don’t want to spend some time reading about it, then feel free to stop right now. Don’t worry, I won’t feel bad about it; I hate reading about these kind of stuff too.
Some folks make it a point to do good to have heaven as a reward later.
But is doing good deeds with the express intention to seek out some form of compensation or payment afterwards really “doing good”? That is the itch I am trying to scratch: seeking to understand better what “doing good” really means.
I know that there are some folks out there who only do good deeds because of the prospect to have heaven as God’s payment for being good in this life. I know of a few who make it a point to let everyone know that they are doing “good deeds”; maybe they just want a lot of witnesses to hoist up to God on judgment day as proof that, indeed, they did “good deeds” in this life so it is their just right to have heaven as a reward in the afterlife (heavy sarcasm here).
I don’t really agree that much with this kind of perspective.
I don’t know about other people out there, but for me, after much introspection and consideration, I think it is a much better thing if we do good for the sake of good without expecting something in recompense. Having heaven as a reward later will just be the icing on top.
If you watched over a neighbor’s house while they were away, all the while expecting as well as receiving some payment for it; that is not goodness that is service rendered for a fee – that is business, a plain and simple commercial transaction.
If you give food and money to the needy all the while expecting for them to vote for you in the upcoming elections; that is not goodness, that is politics.
If you help out a friend in need provided that he also help you out later; that is not goodness that is service rendered for a condition – that is a contract between two parties.
If you are kind, considerate and loving to someone all the while with the intention to have a romantic liaison with her, or him; that is not goodness that is courtship or even lust if you are only after sex for the sake of sex.
If you are being respectful, kind and obedient to your parents just because they are paying for you tuition and providing you with food and shelter and all other perks; that is not goodness, you are just looking after your own comfortable fat ass.
So, for me, if you are just doing good to have heaven as a reward; that is not goodness that is just taking care of your selfishly lardy ass solely for your own personal wellbeing.
Goodness should be about doing good for the sake of good without expecting or seeking out any recompense both from those that you have served and helped in this life, and from God Himself. The prospect of having heaven in the afterlife should only be a pleasant surprise afterwards if it is granted to us and not as the reason for doing good.
If God opens the mighty doors of heaven to those who did good deeds only because they want to go to heaven, that sounds like God is bribing us to do good. Giving some form of incentive for doing what He wants, that is bribery in some way, and I don’t think God would do something like that.
However, if God opens the pearly gates to those who did good deeds for the sake of good without expecting or seeking out payment from God, now that is a real gift. A gift is not a reward; it is a gratuitous act, an act of liberality, an act of kindness mirroring that which you have done for others. A gift is truly a gift to the one who does not expect it. A gift is not a gift to someone who actively sought it out. Heaven is a gift. To seek out heaven is the same as seeking it out for personal gain – now, that does not sound so good, don’t you think?
I have said my piece.
I have scratched my itch.
Aaah, what bliss!