Welcome to their good place
I stumbled upon a rather peculiar series called ‘The Good Place’. As you may have guessed, the series focused on the afterlife in what should be heaven. The star of the series, Eleanor has just died and is seated in a waiting room to speak with the seemingly ‘man-in-charge’, the architect of heaven. As the architect welcomes her to the ‘good place’, Eleanor becomes confused because she is all too aware that she did not live a righteous life on earth and as such believes this is a big mistake.
As per the rules of that particular universe, getting to heaven is decided by a points-based system—one in which good deeds add up. As Eleanor is introduced her new home, she meets three other citizens of the ‘good place’, one of which is introduced as her soulmate in the afterlife.
Chidi, a professor of ethics and moral philosophy, is indecisive and anxious by nature—a far cry from Eleanor’s carefree and selfish ways. Unable to keep up the act, she soon divulges to Chidi that she believes an error was made in her arrival to the ‘good place’ as she is not a good person having lived a selfish existence on earth. Chidi, always wanting to do the ultimate good decides to give her ethics lessons to make her a better person and in effect, have her earn her place in heaven. After all, he is her soulmate for the afterlife.
The longer you watch the series the more it becomes painfully aware that something is strangely off. The other couple she met on arrival are polar opposites of each other and as it turns out, not really good people either. When they truly decide to assess their lives on earth, Eleanor and Manny could openly admit that they were not the best human beings.
Chidi and Tahani maintain that they were good and as a result have earned their place, but viewers have quickly realised that neither of the two deserves to be there as they are both self-serving and narcissistic respectively.
Things fall apart
‘The good place’ is filled with all your desires, and it is depicted as a place of much jubilation. The village they live in slowly begins to fall apart and Michael, the architect, announces that something is terribly off with the ‘good place’ and that is why it is falling apart. Eleanor becomes extremely nervous and afraid that Michael will discover that she is not deserving to be in ‘the good place’ and as such she is the cause of the chaos. At the end of the first season it is revealed that they are actually all in ‘the bad place’, a.k.a. hell, in an elaborate experiment led by Michael which was truly orchestrated to torture them and each other emotionally and psychologically for eternity.
The series takes us through an elaborate attempt to get to the real ‘good place’ as they come to realise that the points system is flawed and no one has made it to ‘the good place’ in centuries.
Proposing to teach humans to improve their moral development and set up an experiment to test this theory, the experiment works and they finally make it into the real ‘good place’. However, the ennui of eternal bliss eventually numbs them and they lose all their personality.
The series ends with the people in ‘the good place’ having the ability to decide to exit ‘the good place’ and peacefully end their afterlife.
This should be viewed as nothing more than a TV series, because to those who do not know better, the false depiction of how you get to the ‘good place’ a.k.a heaven, is dangerous. Yes, dangerous because eternity is simply not a joke.
A points system?
All this does is perpetuate the belief that good deeds are how we earn our way into heaven.
Ephesians chapter 2, verse 8-9 states that ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.’ and
Romans chapter 10 verse 9-10 also states ‘That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.’
Nothing in these verses alludes to good works. We are ‘saved by grace’ speaks to God’s goodness to us and nothing we could possibly do but have a humble posture, confess our sins, proclaim that Jesus is Lord! And that God raised him from the dead.
All of this is important and truly the only requirement to be saved. Saved people are called Christians and this is the requirement for heaven.
As St Matthew chapter 6 verses19-21 expresses, there is a place for good works, but that alone cannot get us into heaven. We must first do and believe the important declaration set out in the Bible as stated above and our ‘good works’ in any type of points system is to in effect store up treasures in heaven. But we can’t store up those treasures, let alone get to reap them, if we do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s like trying to get on the guestlist for a party of a person you don’t know.
In any event, the series was a too simplistic view of eternity. Therefore, because we desire to get to the real ‘good place’, we must accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and saviour and when we do our good works it will store up in heaven.
Kimberley Salmon from Jamaica West Indies is a praise and worship leader who remains passionate about touching hearts through singing and writing as she thrives to become a published author of Christian women’s fiction. She loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is grateful for God’s saving grace which continues to transform her life. As a senior Press Service International Columnist, she is elated that she can now share her journey with God with the world.