One reason I love this photo is because I love Buddy. He is great company, particularly when I’m alone in the house at night. And because I love him, I don’t think about the bad boy things he has done: I see him as perfect and totally lovable.
The Apostle John, who laid his head against Christ’s breast when Jesus walked the earth, declared that “God is love,”–1 John 4:16
When most people think of Heaven, they think of angels on clouds and green meadows full of flowers and meeting their loved ones again, looking young and healthy. They usually don’t think of it as a place where God dwells.
Since God is love and dwells in Heaven, guess what Hell could be defined as? Not as a place of fire and brimstone, but a place where God does not dwell, a place totally absent of love.
Please think about that. Hell is a place with no mercy, no kindness, no laughter, no joy, no peace, no faithfulness, no goodness, no patience, no freedom…(Galatians 5:22) I’m sure you can think of many others.
I think most people, if mentally healthy, would prefer to go to Heaven and not Hell, but they have a misunderstanding about how to get there. This will shock most people: IT’S NOT BY BEING GOOD! or , like pictured in an Egyptian papyrus painting, I have, “IT’S NOT BY HAVING YOUR GOOD DEEDS OUTWEIGHING YOUR BAD.”
To address the latter firstly: If you think it’s by having your good deeds outweighing the bad, how do you define your good and your bad deeds? God is perfect. His definition of “bad” is far broader than ours is. The longer I’m a Christian, the more I realize how bad I really am, because I become more familiar with what God’s standards really are. When someone asked Jesus what he must do to “inherit eternal life”, Jesus responded, “No one is good except God alone.”–Luke 18:18
This seems to me a really iffy program to place my hope on to obtain eternal life in Heaven. How do you really know when your good deeds outweigh your bad? How many points does gossip get versus donating a toy to Toys for Tots? That method would keep me awake at night.
Most people don’t understand the gospel (which means “good news”). It’s not good news to tell me that I need to work really hard to be good and hope that maybe I did well enough to pass muster on Judgment Day. God cannot tolerate evil, i.e. sin. He demands perfection. In the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus declared, “You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”–Matthew 5:48 I blew that one a long time ago.
That’s why Jesus had to die. Only He was good enough, being God in the flesh, to live a perfect life and take our punishment for God’s wrath against sin. We don’t do anything to earn Heaven except humble ourselves and admit we’re sinners and need Jesus’ blood to cover our sin for us. And because He rose from the dead, proving Himself to be God and His sacrifice acceptable, ask Him to empower us by giving us the Holy Spirit to live His life through us.
Then God sees us as perfect and totally lovable, just like I love my Buddy.
“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”–Psalm 103:12
And that’s good news, not working for my eternal life but accepting that Jesus already did it for me.
Sadly, admitting they’re not perfect is just too difficult for most people.
PS. If someone says this is wrong, it’s not by faith in Christ but good works, then ask them, “Why did Jesus have to die?”
If you agree with me, “Hey, I’d like to go to Heaven and live with this loving God for eternity, and I know I’m not perfect, I’ve missed the mark,” please pray:
Dear Father, I’m sorry I’ve screwed up and fallen far short of your standards. I know I’m far from perfect but I believe you love me and want me to spend eternity with you. I believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and died for my sins. That He lived the perfect life I couldn’t live. Please forgive me and grant me Your Holy Spirit to lead and guide me. Amen.