Go To Statement Considered Harmful

Whoever had to smile reading the title of this post: welcome, fellow dated programmer. But read on, this is not about programming languages of old. Everybody else just consider yourself lucky that you did not have to suffer through the “good old times” of programming or even programming itself and remember the goto statement.

But I was going to talk about something totally different. There is a go to statement in Christian faith: I am getting saved to go to heaven. Let me show you why I consider this statement to be even more harmful than the one in COBOL and BASIC. But there seems to be a parallel: what was the goto statement in programming used for? To control a flow or to escape a mess.

Apropos escaping a mess: getting saved to go to heaven only takes into consideration what you want. Like a little child that does not ask for the things the parents would like this only concentrates on “me, me, me.” But if the plan were to get you saved, why didn’t you just follow Henoch’s example and leave the planet when the goal was reached? Why didn’t God just get you?

What if it was all about getting some people with me to heaven? That sounds much less egoistic and explains why I have to spend some more time down here. But doesn’t it turn Christianity into works? Granted, you get to heaven because you accepted Jesus as saviour, but if it is necessary to take some people with you, will there be a greater price for greater crowds? After how many “converts” will you be released to leave this “valley of death and sorrows” and be promoted to be with the Lord?

But within my answer there lies “des Pudels Kern”, the real problem. Accepting Jesus as your saviour just falls short of what Jesus has planned for you. He wants to be Lord in your life. He wants you to obey – if you love me, keep my commandments. Moreover, He wants you to mature. He wants you to build His Kingdom, while he builds His Church. He wants you to rule and reign with Him. But where? Here on earth, as you can see in Rev 22:5.

The go to statement seems to be especially harmful if you believe that the Church will be raptured before tribulation. This was taught to Chinese Christians by Western missionaries. When Mao and with him persecution came, there was a great fall from Christian believe as the people started to call God a lyer: didn’t he promiss to spare them from the time of great dispair?

I do not know whether we will leave this planet to greet the Lord and accompany Him down to earth at His second coming before, during, or after the tribulation time. I lean towards believing that we will at least experience parts of it, being spared like Israel was spared in Egypt: even though they experienced opression and had to make bricks without straw, they were spared from the wrath of God as there was light in Goshen when all Egypt was in darkness.

Another way the go to statement is harmful is when used to project the future: tomorrow I will go to … The Lord tells us to be careful and at least say “if the Lord permits and we are still alive …”.

But if it is not about going to heaven, taking as many with us as we can, being saved from troubles, and planning our future, what is it all about?

As I said, as a child all you think about is you. What will I profit – and if you are honest, all of the above falls into that category. But Paul said that when he became a man, he did away all childish things. 1Jo 2:12-14 shows us three steps in maturing: children – we just dealt with that. Young people ask: what can I do for you. And fathers want to invest themselves into others.

If you want a phrase with “go” in it to summarize God’s plan for your life: Go, grow up, mature, and multiply Christ in you, and make disciples by multiplying yourself in others.