Posts Tagged ‘John 14:6’

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 people who believe Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God claim that Heaven — the dwelling place of God, His angels, His Son and all truly committed followers of Jesus — is only open to those who follow Jesus?

The answer is simple: The Words of Jesus. He tells anyone willing to listen that “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 — 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 written about in ancient biographies of Jesus and there’s plenty of evidence to back up the key elements of His life. (Visit http://www.carm.org or http://www.ReasonableFaith.org and read the evidence for yourself.)

The important 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 moral crimes for which you can’t forgive yourself. All of it becomes secondary when you believe in Jesus 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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10638108-abercrombie-and-fitch“Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

These were the words of Mike Jeffries, the chief executive officer of trendy clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, spoken in a 2013 interview with Salon, the online news and entertainment website.

That this was the policy of his company is not surprising; lots of retailers aim their products at a specific demographic (rarely mine, I can tell you) and ignore all others.

But none have been so bold – or brave – to publicly state that they don’t want overweight, older or ‘unattractive’ people anywhere near their products.

I was fascinated by the resulting controversy; many people, media outlets and websites reacted almost violently to Jefferies. Some online posters even searched out and shared the most unflattering photos of the CEO that they could find.

But isn’t it clear that Abercrombie & Fitch’s philosophy is exactly how our world works? Haven’t you seen or heard advertisements for condominiums that emphasize how exclusive they are? And aren’t certain restaurants trendy because they are exclusive? What about golf and country clubs – don’t they attract a certain kind of person who likes their exclusivity?

More important, aren’t there times in our lives when most of us – me included – have yearned for a meal in that exclusive eatery or lusted after a unit in that trendy housing project? We actually want to exclude others.

In some ways, I appreciate Mike Jeffries thrusting this unpleasant human characteristic into the spotlight. It gives me a chance to examine my own thinking patterns. It also highlights one big reason why I hold fast to my faith in Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s Son.

You may have been told, or come to believe, that following Jesus is exclusionary – that only people in the club get to spend eternity in Heaven with God and Jesus.

Serious Jesus followers do believe that because in one of the original source documents of His life, Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.”

But what the critics of Jesus don’t tell you is anyone – and I mean ANYONE – can join Jesus in Heaven. God presents His son as a GIFT to every man, woman and child on planet Earth. Gifts are made to be accepted and that’s all you and me have to do to get in on this so-called “exclusive” offer.

When you tell God you want to trust in His son (who many people believe died to make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do), the slate is wiped clean. No matter how ugly your past might be.

How inclusive is this gift? It’s open to Mike Jefferies, it’s open to me, it’s open to YOU, it’s even open to the most reprehensible kind of person (read one such story here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-6K).

So what do you think of this gift? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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