A lot of people don’t believe in God. I get that, hey, I used to dabble in that thought process myself. But if I’ve heard one argument the most I think it would be, “but I’m a good person. I haven’t killed anyone and I’m pretty nice, why should I not go to heaven when a mass murderer can say sorry right before he dies and go? I just can’t believe in a God that would do that.”
Here is where God is battling against our pride. We are told all our lives to work hard and achieve personal success, doing it yourself as much as possible. So why shouldn’t it be the same in our faith? Why shouldn’t I be able to just be “good” and still make it to heaven?
We don’t get this because we are good, we get it because He is good. We can’t boast about what we did to get here because we didn’t do anything to deserve it. That is, besides chugging a big old cup of humility and facing the fact that we do actually need forgiveness. All of us.
We all want equality and here it is, plain as day, the equality we claim to want. Across the board with zero discrimination. And then suddenly it’s not fair. But this is a cool thing about God – He uses our own logic against us to show us our foolishness.
There is nothing we can do to earn heaven. No. Thing. Of course, our fruit and our works will show that we belong to Christ, that’s straight biblical. But no amount of works will get us there.
Look, I’m not one to use heaven and hell as a scare tactic. Honestly, when I accepted Christ almost 9 years ago, that wasn’t what ultimately changed my mind. I wanted something more. Something real. Something bigger. I had been chasing the dreams the world told me to for so long and I was so unfulfilled. I was an academic with a bachelor’s degree from Pitt who was ready to make some money and get the heck out of rural PA and move onto grad school. I was too smart for God.
But then I did something super uncomfortable for me – I went to church. A Nazarene church. And I’m not sure why that made a difference in my mind, but it did – perhaps because this is the church God wanted me personally to be in. And there I saw something that I hadn’t witnessed even once in my 23 years prior. I saw people being genuinely happy where they were and with what they had. And they were genuinely happy to help others. I saw people of all socio-economic standings and all ages working together cohesively for a common goal. I know some Christians get a bad name, but let me tell ya, at least a lot of the ones I know, they do the work. No, nobody’s perfect and of course there are still struggles with greed and pride, among other sins, within the church. But in my experience, once we truly give ourselves to Christ, we don’t have to carry the burden of self anymore and are finally free. Free to love and to give and to serve. Free to find where we truly fit and what our true purpose is. And there is rest in peace in that. Now that is a beautiful gift.
I’ve seen this with many of the Christians I know and they inspire me all the time to do more and do better. Not because there will be a greater prize, not out of trying to “out-Christian” each other, not because we have anything to prove, but because we all know we don’t deserve this gift that Christ gave us and so out of gratitude and love for others we will serve. Sometimes I think we focus so much on the heaven part of the gift that we forget about the gift of freedom in this life. The broken chains, the freedom from sin, the power of the Holy Spirit within us. What a gift it is!!
People don’t like the gospel because it implies the need to change. I get it, I was there once too. Yes, come as you are, but you aren’t meant to stay that way. God has a better plan. And yes, it takes some humbling to admit that. Allow change, allow a clean slate and a new heart and a rebirth. You won’t regret it. I know how it feels to have a million questions and doubts running through your mind and none of it making sense. And if you want to discuss anything further (civilly and respectfully of course 😉) please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Good Friday!!