I wonder how many people really want to go to heaven? I’m not going to turn this into a sermon, but from pure observation it seems that not a lot of folks — even those who call themselves Christians — care a lot about going to that place that Jesus talked about. Moreover, even Jesus himself seemed to indicate that the “stuff” he was talking about wasn’t for everyone.
“Strait is the gate,–Matthew 7:14
and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life,
and few there be that find it”
That surely doesn’t seem like a carte blanche invitation to all and sundry. And for those who are doing well in the world as it is Jesus seemed to indicate that it would be even harder for those:
“It is as difficult for a rich man–Matthew 19:23
to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven
as it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle”.
There are a lot of wonderful people in this world. But when it comes right down to it, most of us are pretty happy with the world we are living in, and we aren’t overly keen on drastically changing our life, or our behavior to make it otherwise. Certainly, COVID is a point of proof. There have been clearly identified ways of staying safe from COVID and by the millions humans around the world have resisted following the safe way, and have protested and obstructed attempts to keep the population safe. How should anyone be surprised that humans aren’t in any big hurry to live lives that emulate in fact the principles that Jesus — or even other respected teachers have encouraged upon us.
We have this wonderful ability as humans to have great confidence in our own set of values. That ability has enabled us to modify the world as we know it to suit our needs and our wants. We have harnessed great powers producing electricity, we have manufactured all the devices we want or need to achieve safety and security, but those poor whom Jesus said would always be with us still scrabble around for food and shelter while the rich and even those barely scraping by ignore their plight as if they weren’t there.
It’s funny that I cannot recall a single place in the teachings of Jesus, or indeed in the teachings of any of the great thinkers and philosophers where they told us that doing the right thing was going to be easy. Jesus, and indeed all the other great teachers told us what they had to say and left the matter up to us from that point on.
I rather think that behaving in a Christian manner, or following any philosophy or religion boils down to the same thing: you have to want to do it. No matter what you know, unless you are willing to follow the ideals set out by your teacher the things you have heard are — essentially — meaningless. You have to try. You have to attempt. You may fail, you may not succeed, but unless you put your shoulder to the burden and push — nothing happens. You don’t move the challenge in front of you. You don’t over come. You don’t enter into the kingdom of heaven, or earth, or anywhere else.
As a Christian I know that Jesus promised his “followers” a lot of wonderful thing. But the kicker always was that there was the assumption that those who followed would do what he said. Today I see great big churches and fancy surroundings but I wonder where the teachers like Jesus are — the ones who follow his lifestyle, and do what he said. Instead I see a lot of people trying to be like everyone else, or better than everyone else. We still have the poor. We still have the downtrodden.
I wonder how many people really care about going to heaven? From what I see around me it sure doesn’t seem like there are very many. I can live my own life as best I can according to the standards I accept as important, and I know what changes I make in my own life to be a better person than I am just being myself. But around me I see a lot of unwillingness to engage, a lot of unwillingness to do better, a lot of “I don’t care about others.” It makes me sad because I know a lot of folks think they are doing what they should — and all the time they are just doing what they want to do.