Is the heart of Christianity about going to heaven?

It was the day I died.

That opening line in movies and books has become kind of cliched but even now it still does a great job of pulling you in and wondering what happened, how and why they died and most importantly what they spent those last few days doing. How did they live knowing they we’re going to die.

I think, it’s similar to a question I get often, will this or that person go to heaven when they die? Will I go to heaven when I die? What if they live an awful life and then make a death-bed confession will they still go to heaven?

There is a place for all of those kinds of questions and the concern for eternity and what comes next is natural for all of us, especially concerning people we love and ourselves. But what these questions have had the tendency of doing is become the dominant question that people ask and want to make sure they are assured of in their Christian life to the point of overshadowing and minimizing all of the other really important aspects of daily Christian life and practice for us who are living right now.

It is often like the same kind of quote that the hero in the movie or the book declares with a bold stare and barely controlled tears in their eyes, “I would die for her! I would die for him!” Often in the movies that statement is always put to the test in a heroic, grand gesture. I have heard these same statements as well over the years sitting with young couples getting ready to share their marriage vows when I ask them to express their love. “I would die for them,” they say.When they are done with the grand verbal gestures, I usually say, “I hear what you’re saying, but that’s the easy part. When you die, that’s the end of your responsibility and actions in this life. The real question is, would you live for them? Day in, day out, in sickness and health, poverty and good times, even on the days when you would rather be with someone else, when you wake up and feel like you have fallen out of love, will you live for them?”

The focus of the Christian life is not to go to heaven. I really want to emphasize this. The focus of the Christian life is not to go to heaven. The Bible is clear, in faith in your baptism you will be with God and live with Him. Maybe it’s time to let that question rest a bit and let our hearts and souls be still in the blessed assurance of the eternal life we have with our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Because one day it will be the day I died and you may very well be forced to show by your actions, “I would die for him or her, I would die for Jesus.” This is part of the promises that every Lutheran makes when they become part of a LCMS church family. “Will you suffer all even death than walk away from this Christian faith?” Will you die, will we die soon? Absolutely. In the viewpoint of eternity our mortal lives are a blink of an eye. Our bodies will turn back to dust, our homes will turn back to dust, our church buildings will all turn back to dust. But when we die, how we will die is not really the question. The question is, how will you live, right here and now, in this blink of an eye you have been given? How will you live in Jesus?

I’m hoping Powerball hysteria is over. The winers are already starting to collect their  share in the whopping 1.6 billion payday. Did I say, three winners, I meant four. Don’t forget the federal government that will get a 39.6% income tax from the winners. Just pretend with me for a minute that one of those Powerball winners after paying the government and putting millions of dollars in the bank is delivered the news from the doctor that they will die next week. What will they do with that windfall? I don’t know, probably make sure family and loved ones are taken care of and maybe, just maybe, live to give it all away. If they are wise, they wouldn’t spend all of their energy on mansions, boats, planes and flat screen tv’s because they wouldn’t be able to use them anyways, but maybe they would realize that there are so many around them that very day that desperately need help and maybe they will live their last days to give it all away. Or maybe they won’t, maybe they’ll be selfish and live for themselves alone, but they will still die and it will all still go away. What kind of legacy will they leave behind?

If I could leave you with only one thing, it is this. You have been given the Powerball, you are a billionaire, you are rich beyond compare, in Jesus. There is no price tag on eternity, no amount of money that can buy the blessed assurance you have in Jesus, nothing that can be compared to the riches that are stored for you in eternity with God and given to you right now in faith and you will die, maybe not tomorrow but maybe it will be. We live and die in the blink of an eye. Whatever happens tomorrow there are so many around you, this very day, who do not have this blessed assurance and who need help right now. It is time to live for Jesus, to live today to give it all away.

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