Sunday, February 5, 2012

Misconception: Christians "Love" God to Get to Heaven

Actually, you could take that title either way. It isn't entirely a misconception. The real misconception at the base of that is what Heaven is.

Heaven is where God is. Heaven is being with God, surrounded by him. Heaven could be ugly, brown, gray and dusty; but if it has God then it is worth it. That's what Heaven is. It isn't the streets paved with gold. It isn't the promised places that he prepared for us. It isn't the soft green grass or harps or halos or clouds. Heaven is being with God. I'm in heaven when I'm with God.

Now if you aren't Christian, you are wondering why I think Heaven is so great if it isn't about the pretty stuff in the sky. If you've never been in God's presence then you wouldn't know and I can't explain it. The most I can explain to you is why I love God and why I want to be with him forever.

I love God because in the very beginning, when humanity betrayed him, he promised he would rescue us. I love God because when his people were starving in the desert, he provided them food. When their enemies threatened to destroy them, he led them to victories, accomplishing more than they could have dreamed. When they were slaves, he even gave their slave-owners chance after chance to relinquish them. When they did not, he still rescued his people. He protected and rescued the good, and he wiped out the bad so that good could thrive. Although he makes it clear that women should be women and men should be men, he also esteems them equally. There are many strong and powerful women in the Bible, like Esther. He esteems all creation equally, and understands their places.

I love God because he, a shining being of all-powerful royalty, beautiful in every way, dressed in rags and walked among the lowest places of the earth as a hick from Nazarene. Saying Jesus of Nazareth was like saying Albert of the Midwest back then. I love him because he taught us how to survive in the desert and how to survive in our own personal wildernesses. He gave us hope. God allowed himself to be beaten and speared and tossed into the fiery pits of Hell by taking on all of the burdens we've borne. He carried everything I've ever done - the time I told my brother I hated him, the time I screamed and embarrassed my parents. The times I thought mean and rude things about my classmates, the times I've hurt my parents or lied to someone. He carried the weight of that to Hell so I wouldn't have to.

I love God because he has healed me. Again, and again and again. He has brought me through dark places so I could find beautiful ones. The darker the place I've gone through, the more incredible the things on the other side. I love him because he loved me first. He has pursued me, and not only me, but everyone. He is with us at all times. When your parents didn't do a good enough job, when your brother or sister leaves you, when the person you married fails you, and when your friends drift away, he is always there.

So if you wonder, just remember the list. That isn't even a specific list. But if I were specific, it would be a TLDR* situation and that isn't necessary at this point.

Christians don't pretend to love an imaginary being they can't see out of fears that they won't reach the place with golden streets. Maybe people think they are Christians and do that, but a true Christian isn't in it for that kind of material reward. In the Bible it describes God as being with Abraham and Isaac and everyone in the ancient times. It describes God as being in us after Jesus leaves. In that sense, we know he is there and do not have to see him. We know he is there and we love him because of it. We love him because while he is in us, we can understand it when he speaks to us and teaches us. And while he is in us here, we want to be surrounded by him. That is why we love him, and that is why we want to get to Heaven. It is because we want to get to where God is.

*Too Long Didn't Read

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