It’s Not About Heaven
Ever since childhood, my faith tradition has emphasized as utmost importance, the need to get to heaven. This perspective was reinforced through sermons, bible studies, artwork, dramas, and of course, the famous (or infamous) altar call. The goal of faith was to get as many people into heaven as possible. The world was going to hell, right? Most of our ministries and outreaches all revolved around this understanding. Therefore, believers were called to find or create as many “invitation to heaven moments” as possible to as many people as possible.
Now, don’t get me wrong (which happens a lot)…
I believe in heaven. Although I don’t know much about it, I get a perspective from the Bible that it will be a wonderful place for eternity. I look forward to it, especially since God dwells there.
Unfortunately, I think there are some in the church that over-emphasize the notion of heaven as the primary goal of Christian faith. I think this could create a warped view of the purpose of heaven.
I once heard a speaker talk about whether or not we would be satisfied if we received all the benefits of heaven (and eternity), but not have Jesus. Sadly, I think many would be happy to receive all the “perks” of heaven even if it meant that Jesus would not be a part of the equation. I suspect that some of this may be rooted in our self-centered version of faith in which Jesus is sometimes seen as a means to an end; our end of course.
When Jesus invited people to himself and his Kingdom in the first century, there was little mention about the goal of this invitation being heaven. I think Jesus was inviting people to participate in a new kind of Kingdom that was to actively participate in the world of the now with the things that resonate close to the heart of God. He was inviting people to partake in a mission to become tangible expressions of God’s love for the world. This was and is still the invitation.
Heaven is definitely a great by-product (or natural result) of faith in Christ. Nevertheless, I think it could also be a terrible, misleading goal. My goal in life is not to “get in”, but rather stay close to Christ and his works here on earth. I must focus on the now even as I anticipate the future.
If Jesus were not in heaven, I would not want to be there either. We must center our attention on Christ, not just his benefits. May our life here on earth reflect our love for Christ and his mission.