I am going to reiterate, yet again, that although I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) and the basic outline of the afterlife that it espouses is the basis upon which I draw, I cannot say that what I present below is either factually true or an accurate depiction of the official LDS conception of life after death. I just love coming up with fresh ways of disclaiming everything I say!
I got so excited about sharing my thoughts of the telestial (lower), terrestrial (middle), and celestial (higher) rewards that God makes available to us that I forgot that I am describing the after-life out of order! These rewards come at the far end of a rather drawn-out after-death process.
I think a lot of things I was taught in relation to the after-life were allegorical, especially if it is drawn from biblical descriptions. As an example, the whole concept of Hell was apparently based on a burning canyon of refuse a bit away from Jerusalem that was pretty nasty to behold (smell) and into which some people might have been thrown if the authorities didn't like them. It would be a great way to display the idea of hellish punishment to people who cannot be convinced to be decent otherwise. Christians believe in Jesus and Heaven and I hear that slightly more people trust that there is a Satan and a Hell. For my part, I think there is a Hell as well, but probably in a way that is different than most, but I will save that for another post.
When the term "Judgement" gets used, I think of a courtroom and I imagine a lot of other people do as well. There are lawyers, one defending you and another prosecuting you, bringing in witnesses and evidence either for or against a happy result. There is also a judge that we are told will be so correct that we cannot offer anything but ascent to his decision. Christians hope Jesus, as the defense lawyer, will do them a good and merciful turn. however, it seems the idea is something akin to the picture below - good folk going to some nice place and the bad folk being dragged off to a horrible punishment.
For all we know, Judgement will be an interview between God, the Savior, and the individual being judged, where we are shown how we REALLY are. Can I be honest here? A lot of people think they are really wonderful (far more so than you or me), sycophantic people have sung their praises, and they think they deserve a wonderful reward beyond what their true natures justify. For instance, a lot of politicians probably fall into this "swelled-ego" category. On the opposite side, some people think very much less of themselves, distrust most praise (I do this to an unhealthy level), and will think they deserve far less than God does. Sometimes God needs to build our perceptions up, other times he needs to cut us down to true size, to help us see ourselves clearly. In my view, Judgement is all about finding such clarity and, once we see ourselves as we truly are, we will choose which glory fits our then clear perception best and God will simply concur.
I hope as I explored the differing rewards in past posts that I didn't give the impression that any of the three were comparatively bad - to my thinking, they are all wonderful in the eyes of their future residents and are deserving of the appellation of "Heaven". I also think that God is not disappointed in a person who lived and chooses the middle or lower glory. Everyone has their personal preferences and puts forth effort toward the glory that they authentically desire. Of course, God encourages everyone to strive for the highest reward and assures us that each of his children have the capacity to attain the best - I think it really is dependent on the resolve and diligence of each person and what they REALLY WANT as displayed in thought and deed during their life.
That is what I think the Judgement will be like.
In grand backward order, I will move on, in a future post, to talk of heaven and hell, paradise and prison, rest and punishment, all terms for the same condition that actually occurs BEFORE Judgement. Stay tuned.