The Problem with Heaven

20 07 2012

“I never have and I never will question my salvation!”

This is how someone recently responded when the life they were living was being challenged — a life that  . . . well, let’s just say it didn’t really reflect the things of God.  So as the person was challenged, this was the response.  “I never have and I never will question my salvation!”

Now as a reformed believer, eternal security it something I embrace with my whole being.  We are God’s — all of us — and nothing will ever change that!  I don’t believe that we can ‘loose our salvation’ or in any way ‘backslide’ out of the arms of God.  We can close our eyes to God’s will and way in our world, and choose to ignore the love and grace and mercy that has been given for all to enjoy; but it is never lost.  All one needs to do, ever, is open our eyes to it and embrace it.

So what troubles me with this person’s attitude is NOT the eternal nature of the response.  What troubles me is this person’s understanding of salvation.  For what it being expressed is the idea that one’s life is not related to one’s understanding of salvation.  Salvation is about one’s death — and where one goes when one dies!  And more often than not, it’s about what one believes when one dies, that will allow us entry into that place.  Salvation is reduced to what one believes; and when this occurs, how one lives is compromised!  And such thinking is not uncommon!

Far too many people in the church today only think of heaven when they think of salvation.  “Being saved” is about dying and going to that place where streets are paved with gold, and where there is no crying and no pain.  There are few implications for the life that one lives here and now; for all that matters is holding fast to certain beliefs, so that when we close our eyes on this life, we are saved from opening them in that place where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth!”

And that is what I have a problem with — not because I want to take away anyone’s picture of some kind of afterlife.  If the traditional views of heaven are what keep people going and gives them hope in this life, then far be it from me to try and take that away  But if this is where one’s understanding of salvation ends . . . well, that’s when I have a problem with heaven!

You see, if there are only ‘eternal’ implications’ of salvation, and if it doesn’t have any kind of an impact on the lives we live here and now, then we are missing out on one of Jesus’ greatest teachings — that the kingdom, or commonwealth of God, is at hand!  If salvation is only about being saved from the fires of hell when we die, then we stunt the Gospel’s power and we distort the teacahings of the one who came to give us new life, IN THIS LIFE!

Salvation is about so much more than an afterlife.  The salvation that Christ brings to our world is also about being saved from living lives that do not reflect the light and love of Jesus.  It’s about being saved from living in ways that do not bring wholeness to our world, that fail to embody divine grace and mercy, and that miss out on the hope and and joy of living the way of truth and life.

None of us should evey question our salvation . . . ever!  But such certainty should never make us irresponsible in the lives we are living.  For when our view of savlation becomes so narrow that it includes nothing more than going to heaven when we die, and when ‘getting there’ is less about how we live and more about what we believe, we’ve missed the Gospel completely.

And when that happens . . . well . . . hey . . . is that the gnashing of teeth I hear?

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