Tuesday, February 15, 2011

So let me clarify.

I believe in heaven, and I believe in hell. (Jesus took them both seriously, so I should too.)

So what's my problem?

Mark Twain said something like this: It's amazing to think that Christians are eager to spend eternity worshipping God, an activity which in this life seems tedious after just an hour.

I don't want us to make heaven about us and what we want. Simple as that. It's about God and what he wants.

So God wants lots of company, and he is eager to save people. Those who put their trust in him, he will welcome to heaven. Jesus is the means -- the person, the event, the revelation -- by which God shows us how to trust him. Because Jesus died for me (key words) and I put my trust in him, God is eager to welcome me into his presence when I die.

But here's the thing. If I say I believe that Jesus died for me, that belief should bear some fruit in this life. The fruit Jesus said it should bear is that I should lose myself -- lose my obsession with myself, mostly -- and focus on him.

Too many "Christians" are obsessively focused on themselves and Jesus is just a means to an end. He is a convenient Savior, but he is not really Lord in any sense for these people.

Maybe that's a better way to state this. We are too eager to make Jesus my savior and not interested at all in surrendering to him as Lord. But if you count up the numbers, the New Testament calls Jesus "Lord" far more -- FAR more -- than it calls him Savior.

And if I live a self-centered life in this existence, what makes me think that after I die, I'll be eager to live in heaven where Jesus' lordship is absolute? There people count it a privilege to worship him, and they sing of his glory all the time, not just for an hour on Sunday morning. (See Revelation 4-5 if you doubt this.)

You can tell the saints -- the holy ones -- in this life by this simple test. The saints are the ones who are frustrated by their selfishness. They see the shreds of their old self-obsessed life and they long for Jesus to make them holy. They are tired of looking out for their own welfare. When they see Jesus face to face in heaven and his glory burns away that last bit of self-interest in them, they will be greatly relieved and overjoyed.

In hell, on the other hand, those who have lived in this life with their self-centered interests and agendas may just be given perfect freedom to continue those priorities through all eternity. It's enough to make you weep and gnash your teeth.

Salvation is not about me and what I get. It's about Jesus and what he's already given me. Now I just want to learn to see him, follow him, serve him more and more.

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