There was this joke about a priest who walked into a pub, asking people if they wanted to go to heaven. The first two people said, “Yes, I’d like to go to heaven.” To which the priest said, “Stand over there against the wall.”
The priest asked another man the question, “Do you want to go to heaven?” To which the young man answered, “No!” Puzzled the priest said, “I don’t believe this. You mean to tell me that when you die you don’t want to go to heaven?” The man replied, “Oh, when I die yes. I thought you were getting a group together to go right now.”
Exactly how that man felt about heaven is how most of us Christians feel about heaven. As much as we talk about heaven, and how we look forward to going there someday, no one wants to go right now! And our reason for not wanting to go to heaven now is not because we are so busy here on earth, winning souls for the Lord. No! It’s because we love the world and the things of the world more than we love heaven or the Father.
We love the world so much that we are not willing to leave it, as long as we have good health and prosperity. We readily want to go to heaven only when we are terminally sick, hurting, in pain or broke. Not while we have our health and money in our pocket. And understandably so, after all the world is all we know and are accustomed to.
No one has been to heaven and back!
But the problem with our love for the world or the things of the world is that it makes us fearful of death -- fearful of leaving our worldly goods and loved ones behind. And our fear of death hinders us from doing the will of the Father. For instance, going to evangelize in places we consider hostile or dangerous; for fear of getting killed.
Our love for the world and the things of the world makes the world have a firm grip on us. Therefore, the tighter the world’s grip on us, the less we are willing or ready to die. You can’t love the world and love the Father (I John 2:15). The love of one keeps you from loving the other.
Jesus put it this way, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” -- Matthew 6:24
So then, if our love for the world and the things of the world is what makes us fearful of death or doing the will of the Father, what can make us not to be fearful of death, and be willing to do the will of the Father?
Simply, by not loving the world or the things of the world! Or better yet, by knowing the Father more dearly, in order to love Him more perfectly, and serve Him more reverently. The more we know Him dearly, the more we can love Him perfectly, and the more we can serve Him selflessly.
That’s why Jesus said…“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple…So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26-27 & 33
When the world has no hold on us, we are willing to forsake all, even our lives, for Christ. And not until we are willing to die for Christ are we willing to live for Him. In fact, we are not willing to live until we are willing to die. Again, Jesus put it succinctly this way…“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” -- John 12:24-25
If you ever wondered why some people go to dangerous, hostile areas to preach the Gospel, it’s not because they are suicidal. It’s because they have forsaken all, the world has no hold on them whatsoever, and they are not afraid to die. When you are afraid to die you live for self! But when you are not afraid to die, you live for Christ. Show me a person who lives for self, and I’ll show you a person who’s afraid to die!
The easiest way to live a meaningless life is to live for self. Conversely, the easiest way to live a meaningful life is to live for Christ!
In the parable above, Jesus said that “…unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” Therefore, like the grain of wheat, which cannot yield fruit unless it first dies, neither can we yield fruit unless we ‘die’ – to sin, to self, to personal agendas, etc. Until we lose ourselves, we can’t find ourselves.
Like the grain, our lives yield much fruit when we die to self, sin, our own agenda, etc. And like the grain, our lives should continue to yield fruits, even long after we are dead physically. That is, our lives should continue to yield eternal benefits (leading people to the Lord, and helping people to continue in the Lord) long after we die.
That’s what the lives of Jesus and the Early Disciples did; men like Peter, Paul, John, James, Barnabas, Silas and the other saints too numerous to mention. Their lives are still yielding fruits thousands of years later; simply because they laid down their lives physically and/or figuratively.
As true soldiers of the Lord, we shouldn’t be afraid to die or go wherever the Lord leads. After all, as Pastor John A. Cherry I often says, “Safety is not in location, but safety is in the will of God.” That is, wherever the Lord leads, He not only provides, He protects.
Besides, if anyone needs not to be fearful of death, it ought to be us Christians, because we know for sure (or at least ought to know) our eternal destination -- heaven. Therefore, death for a true Christian is not a punishment, but rather a promotion.
So, our fear or worry shouldn’t be about death, but about not being in God’s will. And even if we die doing God’s will (like many saints of old did), then that’s His will concerning us. After all, whether we die doing God’s will or not, we are all going to die. We might as well die doing God’s will!
By the way, “… none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. Romans 14:7-8
With that said, may I ask, “Heaven: anyone?”