Most people believe in heaven and/or hell. Most people believe that they are going to heaven, and many of those believe that they are going to heaven because they are basically leading a good life. Even if they know that they aren't leading a really good life, they can think of good things that they've done that earn them a spot in heaven, or at the very least, they can think of many people who are much, much worse than they are, so they seem good by comparison.
I try to lead a good life. I try to be a considerate friend, a loving wife and mother. I serve God and others by leading Bible study when asked, giving money to the church and other good causes, and volunteering at my daughter's school when I can. But I, more than anyone, know that my desires are mostly evil--when given a choice, I almost always choose myself over others. I often choose "good enough" over "good," and I frequently indulge my wants, instead of focusing on my needs. The Bible states this universal problem in the book of Romans: "For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God." So, if we are all essentially bad people--sinners--what is the ticket out?
John 3:16, probably the most memorized verse of the Bible, says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Jesus was the son of God, and his death on the cross on behalf of all sin committed up to that point and in the future, saves me from the death that my sin deserves, and brings me into eternal life (heaven).
Jesus said in the book of John, "if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am." So, my ticket to heaven, and yours too if you choose to accept it, is to hitch a ride with Jesus. He's there. He's waiting for you. Do you feel confident that you will go to heaven? Not because of what you've done, but only because of what Jesus did?
The book of Romans again says, "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." So, do you believe that you have done bad things? Do you believe that Jesus, God's son, died on the cross to pay for sin? That's honestly all that it takes--not good thoughts, or selfless behavior, or weekly church attendance, or serving the poor. All of those things should manifest within the life of someone who strives to be like Jesus, but that is not what gets you to heaven. This morning my pastor shared one of his favorite questions, "If being good gets you to heaven, why did Jesus have to die?"
Do you believe this? Do you doubt it? If this has challenged or changed your thinking in any way, or if you want to challenge my suppositions, would you comment here? Or you can email me if you prefer.