As odd as it may sound, I would like to know why everyone wants to go to heaven when they die. Do not misunderstand me, it makes sense that Christians would want to go to heaven when they die. After all, we have spent a lifetime loving the Lord and trying to be more like Jesus. We obviously look forward to hearing the Lord say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into thy reward." But what confuses me are all the other people, who clearly are not living as Christians, who also want to go to heaven when they die, even though they do not live as though they believe in heaven. It just makes no sense. If you believe in heaven, you should live like it. If you do not believe in heaven, then why hope for it?
My friend, the Rev. David Wesley Gould, pastor of Nashville First Wesleyan Church, made an interesting statement a few months ago on Facebook. He correctly said, "It
is unrealistic to think that you could live your brief life on Earth without a
deep relationship with God, and still expect to spend eternity with Him." Yet, many people do exactly that. They live a life without any real connection to God. They do pretty much whatever they want to. Often they say things like, "I am spiritual but not into organized religion." But when they die, their end of life plans almost always include a Christian funeral with the hope that someone to "pray them into heaven." If a person does not cultivate a relationship with Christ while they are on earth, why in the world would they want to spend eternity with Him in heaven?
Some of my Christians friends are feeling a bit uneasy right now reading this because they think I am suggesting we can earn our way into heaven through religious deeds. I am not saying that at all. We can only gain salvation by the grace of God. The point I am trying to make is that many people want to live outside that grace but somehow expect to get in when it is all said and done. That is just unrealistic. If we truly know the Lord, then our lives will demonstrate that. Though no one is perfect, the thrust of a life that is lived for God is clearly different than a life lived for self.
Those who live for self can pretend all they want to about eternity, but deep inside, they know that what awaits them on the other side are not streets of gold. Fortunately, if we are still alive, we can change what awaits us on the other side of death. We can accept the grace of God into our lives that was made possible by the death of Christ on the cross. We can repent of our sins and start living for Jesus. Whether we have a month, a year, a decade or a lifetime left to live, we can live that life in relationship with God. In doing so, we will find a great peace when we consider eternity, because we will have the confidence that we really are going to heaven when we die.