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Archive for April, 2017

When I saw this meme, helpfully posted in an atheism community, it instantly grabbed my attention because most of us, me included, don’t really know who believes in Heaven.

So I did some research. According to Wikipedia:

Buddhists seem to believe Heaven is a temporary illusionary reality (though, to be honest, it’s hard to nail down exactly what Buddhism teaches in this respect).

Hindus believe Heaven is a place of eternal, sublime beauty for liberated souls, but it’s not Hinduism’s final pursuit. Like Buddhism (from which it springs), I find it’s difficult to discern an exact Hindu concept of Heaven.

Sikhs believe “Heaven and Hell are not places for living hereafter, they are part of spiritual topography of man and do not exist otherwise.”

Jews — at least the orthodox strain — believe Heaven is part of a three-level universe; it’s above, Earth is in the middle and the underworld is the realm of the dead.

Muslims believe Heaven is an afterlife in Eden for those who do good deeds.

So, in this way, the graphic meme has a good point: others besides Christians believe they could be going to Heaven when this life ends.

So why do most serious Christians (who believe Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God) believe that Heaven — the dwelling place of God, His angels, His Son and all truly committed followers of Jesus — is only open to those who proclaim Christ as Lord and Saviour?

The answer is simple: Serious Christians believe in what the Bible says and in it (a section on Jesus’s life called ‘John’), Jesus tells people “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me”.

Is that exclusionary? In one sense, absolutely. In another sense, absolutely not. Anyone can accept God’s gift of Jesus Christ — His miracles and teaching, His dying on a cross to make up for the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do, and His resurrection from the dead.

All these things are taught in the Bible and there’s plenty of evidence to back up the key elements of Christ’s life. (Visit http://www.carm.org or http://www.ReasonableFaith.org and read the evidence for yourself.)

The key thing is — and this is the best news you’re ever going to read — it doesn’t matter if you’ve ignored God and His Son up ’til now. It doesn’t matter if you’ve followed another faith or guru. It doesn’t matter if you’ve committed evil for which you can’t forgive yourself. All of it becomes secondary when you believe in Christ and dedicate your life to following Him.

If you’ve done that, then all of Heaven is yours. And that Heaven, which includes an intimate relationship with God through His Son, starts right now, in THIS life.

Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Have you noticed the stereotyping that guides pretty much every thought in this meme?

Yes, famed atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair (1919-95) was doing a whole lot of spiritual profiling when she made this statement. Let me break it down for you:

1. The clear inference is people of faith–in this case, Christians, since a church is almost always a Christian building–will always construct a church before a hospital. Where on earth does this strange viewpoint come from?

I’m sure there are a few misguided followers of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God) who think this way, but most are smart enough to realize “church” is NOT a building; it’s a body of believers who are doing their imperfect best to live for their creator and be part of the work He is doing in this very broken world.

This accurate definition means a “church” can meet in a school gym (and many do), a community centre or even someone’s living room.

So, I’m glad to conclude that just like Madalyn, I’d rather have a hospital constructed before a church.

2. Why must a deed be done before a prayer said? Why can’t the two happen at the same time? Believe it or not, prayer is often a catalyst to doing deeds.

Through prayer, people who follow Jesus Christ communicate with the creator and master of time, space and the universe. Through prayer, we discern what God wants us to do. Then we get out into the world and do it.

Evidence? check out the websites of Christian groups like Samaritan’s Purse, Christian Blind Mission, World Vision, Compassion Canada, International Justice Mission and many more. All the amazing work these aid organizations do is before, during and after prayer.

3. I guess I need to undertake a search because so far, I’ve yet to encounter even one Christian who strives to “escape into death”. Followers of Jesus Christ are deeply involved in life.

In my family alone, one stepdaughter has one child and another on the way. My stepson has two kids with another one coming. Oh, and while he’s being a father, he’s deeply involved in his church, sings in a community choir and helps out at the local bowling alley. Can anyone credibly tell me he’s striving to “escape into death”?

4. I’m happy to report that Christians are absolutely in agreement with Madalyn Murray O’Hair: we, too, want disease conquered, poverty banished and war eliminated.

We want this because not only will it make the world a better place, it’s what God wants. That’s why there are Christian doctors, Christian anti-poverty groups and Christian advocates for peace.

So, now that you know some facts about the people who follow Christ, are you more open to checking out the claims of Christianity? Our culture says don’t waste your time, but this is important stuff — now and after this life ends.

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