Updated: Apr 1
Just got home and TV was on. A commercial caught my attention which was addressing something about heaven. It caught my attention because it was not the typical commercial you see on secular TV. A deep voice states, "When you die (dramatic pause)...are you going to heaven or not? You can know for sure at heavenornot.net." My first reaction, not surprising to many of you who read my book or any of my blogs, was,"Really? The soft pedal approach of 'ya'll are sinners going to hell unless you do something about it?!'" You know what I mean. I went to the website and saw what you'd expect. Scripture quotations proclaiming God is real, He loves us, but we are born with sin, we are out of God's grace until we are in; we are in by praying the sinner's prayer which is conveniently written out for the reader to pray...then the reader is offered the follow up "I prayed that prayer" button to click.
Why is sin management such a thing such that we think it is the big draw for someone seeking God in their life? As we come to Easter Sunday, many of us will consider the belief that Jesus died and suffered for us on the cross and paid the price of sin exacted by His father thus granting us access to heaven as forgiven saints. Even if our behavior and sin doesn't change much, we're still "in." I know this is troubling for some to read here let alone talk about. But what is Easter all about, really? Why can't the love of God be the draw to Himself way above and beyond the whole sin management program developed by church doctrine. Why can't the resurrection just blow us away as evidence of life after death? Why is there a catch? The sinner's prayer.
[Sidenote: You ever think of something you never thought of before that seems simple enough you should have thought of it long ago? Like today. The question occurred to me, "Did Jesus ever command his disciples to write a New Testament, let alone formulate one doctrine after another for decades and centuries to come? Did he ever make reference to the future indicating that there would be or should be magnificent architecture applied to the building of cathedrals and buildings we call churches all managed by a hierarchy of clergy?" Everything Jesus said was certainly worthy of writing down and critical for us to learn. He did ask his disciples to pass on his teaching. But really, given he was on the move for only three solid years of ministry, we have very little written in the New Testament attributed to Jesus. Everything else written by the disciples, whether canonized or not, or written by early church fathers becoming doctrine, was all written by men one step removed from coming from the messiah's mouth himself. "Inspiration" is how we get around accepting all that was written by the writers of the new testament and early church documents. No doubt there was some divine inspiration in subsequent writings, letters, teachings, doctrines.]
Sin in the New Testament Greek simplified means "missing the mark or failing to attain a goal." That makes good sense to me. If we are not pursuing God or experiencing the love of God...His grace, mercy and kindness then we are missing the target of life. If God is real, if God is creator, if God loves us then it makes sense that the goal of life is to know and love God. The problem isn't so much you are therefore condemned to hell if you are missing the mark (sinning) it is that you are missing out on the greatest experience of joy and satisfaction only found in relationship with God, for whom Jesus represents as God Himself to us. That Easter baby!!
On the website the sinner's prayer displayed as the key to heaven saddened me as I considered how we've reduced the call to relate to God in intimacy and mystery to a two minute read of selected scriptures all leading to a rote mechanical prayer read on a computer then... voila! You're in! Your'e saved! Phew!! Why can't the love of God be the draw and why can't we proclaim that and that alone to a world missing the mark of His love? I'm still going with the Guy who rose from the dead. He loved us that much!