“I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”
What makes the statement remarkable is not that it is so out-of-sync with anything the Bible teaches, but rather that it reflects the view of so many people.
I bet that most of us have been sold a Looney Tunes image of heaven that goes something like this:
Upon reaching the Pearly Gates, you will find St. Peter waiting at the reception area on Cloud 9 ready to check your name on the naughty and nice list. If you are on the nice list, Congratulations! You get to sit on a cloud, play a harp, and perhaps get a glimpse or two of the old man with a long white beard. If naughty, you are promptly escorted to the down elevator. St. Peter likes a good joke, though, so you may still have one last chance to win him over…
There are many different ideas of what heaven looks like, but one thing that most people seem to think is that being “good enough” is the ticket in. In Mayor Bloomberg’s case, being “good enough” is based on banning Styrofoam containers and large sodas, along with raising money to fight the NRA. Crazy stuff, right?
But before you laugh at Mayor Bloomberg, consider whether you have ever felt the same way, believing that it’s the things you do that matter. Believing that as long as your “good” list is longer than your “bad” list, you are doing ok. But are your good deeds enough to earn a place in heaven with a God who may or may not exist? And who makes that determination?
The Bible teaches in Isaiah 64:6 that “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
So there’s that. What the Bible teaches actually makes much more sense than our idea of being good or bad. After all, I like to drink a large Coke from a Styrofoam cup on occasion. Does that mean I’m out of heaven?
Acts chapter 16 finds the missionaries Paul and Silas in prison. When an earthquake rattles the prison leaving doors opened, the jailer fears that he will end up with a group of escaped prisoners, and is afraid for his life. Upon realizing that these men of God had not escaped the prison, he is amazed by their faith and asks them:
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.
So it’s as simple as that. Believe.
It is our faith that is credited to us as righteousness, not any of our “good deeds”.
Learn to accept the fact that whatever you do or don’t do in this life is not what gets you in or leaves you out of heaven. It is who you believe in that makes the difference. Good deeds alone are not what secure your eternal fate, but if you have truly trusted in Christ, you will live a life that shows it.
Living for Christ allows us to discover the reward of not living for ourselves.
As for Mayor Bloomberg, I hope he learns that there is a God, and learns it sooner than later.