I have posted about heaven a couple of times recently, here and here. I have argued that we do not need to “do” anything to get into heaven. I have further argued that we only do what we do because we have been given salvation. It is worth exploring this a bit more.
Jesus was asked the same question that many people today ask. “What must we do to inherit heaven?” (Mark 10:17). The first thing to notice is the word inherit. We will inherit heaven. Like any bequest it is something that is given to us. It is not something that we earn.
Jesus gives the standard Jewish rabbinical answer; follow the commandments. Again, we understand this as a response to the gift of eternal life, not as a checklist. The man asking the question claims he has kept these commandments since his youth. Then Jesus hits him with the call to sell all he has, give that to the poor, and then follow Him. This would have to be done out of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, not as an “in order to” activity to earn heaven. This is similar to other passages in Scripture where Jesus asks those He encounters to have the faith to follow Him.
So, practically speaking what does this mean? It means that our place in heaven is based on faith. All of our acts are based on and are an extension of a prior faith. Since we don’t act in order to get into heaven, we act because we have already been given heaven. In fact, we are already there. As my former Pastor taught once, we are all arriving at the same time, so it is not a party we can be late to.
By that I mean that at the end of this life we step out of the timestream into eternity, which is what is meant by a party we cannot be late to. Since this is eternity, we are already there. It is just that we cannot see it from this plane of existence. This too we take on faith.
What then are the implications of this? For one thing we can stop worrying about getting into heaven. We have heaven in our back pocket. It’s game over for Mephistopheles. We also need not worry over whether other people are getting into heaven. This is God’s business, not ours. Of course, we worry over those we love who seem to have no faith, but in the end their fate is in God’s hands, as is everything.
The other thing we can do with heaven in our back pocket is set about doing what we can in this world. Specifically, doing what we can to further along the in breaking of God’s Kingdom into the world today. This become our act of gratitude, an act of worship and an act of proclamation, to invite all others to join our Lord and Savior.
Does this mean we have to sell all our possessions as Jesus asked the rich man in Mark 10? Maybe. Jesus calls different people to different things. Zacchaeus only had to get rid of half his wealth and others were not called to sell off anything at all. We are all called to give of our time and talents for the furtherance of God’s work. Each of us knows best what those talents are and how we can use them to serve the Lord. There is no one size fits all template here.
Each of us needs to examine our hearts and discern where God is calling us. This means an examination of our hearts and where our emotions are pulling us. However, it also means an inventory of more practical matters, such as what skills and experiences can I bring to ministry. The important thing to remember is that ALL of this flows from the fact that heaven is in our back pocket.
Take time to reflect on where your heart is directing you, pray on it, think concertedly about it. Listen carefully for the still small voice of God and He will direct you to where you can do the most good. Do not be intimidated by the fact that so much needs to be done. This has been the case since humanity walked upright and it will be like this until the Judgement. Just do something, anything. Don’t let the examples of earth-shattering leaders make you think that you cannot make an impact. The Billy Grahams of the world are few and far between. It is highly unlikely any of us will attain this stature. If we are waiting for the opportunity to be the next Billy Graham, then we will miss doing anything at all. It is said that the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. However, if we are presented with an elephant, most of us will simply walk away.
So, present yourself with something small to start with. The impact you have can be substantial if you simply offer to clean up after a ministry event or help with a church meal or volunteer to be a worship assistant. As the famous quote goes “there are no small parts, only small actors”. Don’t worry about whether you have a small or large part. The size of your part is in God’s hands anyway. Just know that you have a part to play. So, with heaven in your back pocket moving you forward, get busy and play your part in this amazing thing called God’s Creation.
Praise Be to God