Heaven, being the opposite of Hell, gets a bad rep. I just feel like it’s avoidable to people when so called “Christians” are trying to scare you into making a quick decision to accept Jesus into your heart out of fear of going to Hell.
I am not hear to reprimand people who have done this or you who may have said that prayer out of fear of Hell. I mean, regardless of if you believe in Hell or not, it’s real and it’s going to be REAL SCARY. To be completely absent from God makes my whole being get the chills.
I am here to tell you a few things and one of them is, a prayer, even if you meant every word, does NOT save you from Hell.
Jesus does. And what Jesus said and did was extremely unpopular from what many other leaders during his time (and actually, our time) were doing. Jesus’ sermons were not sweet smelling and back rubbing or ear tickling messages. His messages were to the point and difficult.
Jesus said things like, (to his disciples and to any of us who will listen), “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Deny himself. Okay, so deny means a few things but the one that pertains to Jesus’ comment is this,
He replied, 24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. 25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’
*Note, when he says in Vs. 24, “Work hard…” we know from many other scriptures that working hard does not mean “do good works” because, although good works are, well, good, they do NOT save you. He’s talking about working hard to ‘deny yourself’ and following Him instead. Jesus is wise in knowing that denying ourselves daily (many times a day, in my case) is hard work. So, it’s a form of encouragement in that sense.
This passage should rock our world a little. It should not make you say a quick prayer to be sure you “make it in”. Instead, this passage should help us evaluate our hearts and how we are choosing to live.
And for those of us who are really seeking out God daily and denying ourselves while following Him, this passage should make us want to tell others about the gospel!
I am really not sure what possessed me (ha!) to write this post. Maybe late-night chats with my hubby on scripture? Today, I was driving around, running errands with the two littles and I couldn’t stop thinking about heaven, and, well, “How not to get there”.
Being united with Christ, through salvation and *ahem* denying yourself as you put Jesus first, is a hopeful place to be. The things of this world are fleeting as well as the “happiness” it brings. True joy comes from the Lord. Life will bring trials no matter what and following Jesus is not an EZPAY ticket to skip those times. In fact, we are promised trials. So why not follow Jesus and have hope that this life isn’t ‘it’. For someday, the things of this earth with be glorified and so will those who chose to deny themselves and live out those hard things Jesus preached about.
Is it worth it to you?