Heaven

Getting John Doe into Heaven

Jesus once story about how on Judgement Day God will sort us all out, like a shepherd separating sheep from goats. John Doe has never spent a day upon a farm. He wonders what is so bad about goats. He gets the bit about how people, who are only nice when they know that there’s something in it for them, deserve Hell. But, what’s this talk about all of humankind being brought before God (Jesus) and given only one chance to make it into heaven? Hey, even Babe Ruth got three strikes before he had to go to the dugout.

Judgement is really not about punishing people for their sins. Its about providing justice for those who are oppressed. A day is coming when nations who go to war with their neighbor for sport will be made to pay for their violence. A day is coming when the masters of slaves will answer for their ownership of other human beings. There will come a day when the racist, the abuser, the usurper, and those who cheat the poor out of their daily bread, will find themselves in torment. Those who have been victims of wicked people will have their day in God’s court.

Jesus’ point is that the judge of all the earth won’t have a hard time distinguishing who is the victim and who is the accused in his courtroom. The two tables are separated by a courtroom aisle, the way shepherds used to separate their sheep from their goats. On that day the distinction between good and evil will be easily made. If you don’t know animals, think about any two other groups that can be easily sorted. The heaven bound and the hellions are as different as eggs and potatoes, Porsches and Yugos, diamonds and coal.

Sunday, November 26, 2017
Pentecost 34
Christ the King Sunday

What Zerubabbel needed to see

The Sadducees were ‘sad-you-see’ because they didn’t believe in a better world to come. Haggai asks Zerubabbel to remember the former glory of the temple, and then compare it to how things stand today. I find it hard not to be ‘sad-you see,’ whenever I’m asked to make similar comparisons. It’s hard to be upbeat about the months to come when it’s November. Already, I awake hearing the furnace rumble and shiver as I walk the dog. It’s hard to believe that the best is yet to be when you get a senior discount with your coffee at McDonalds. It’s hard to believe in eternal life when everything you know rusts and falls apart. Yet Jesus came blessing people with hope. Haggai was sent to Zerubabbel to say that what lies ahead will be far more glorious than the gilded age of your fondest memories.

    There is an important word in Haggai 2:4; Courage. It is repeated three times as if there are a trinity of applications for God’s people. When we look at our personal lives, we need to take courage in the reality of Heaven. Our bodies are mortal, from the moment of our birth we begin to die. Our culture idealizes youth and denies the wisdom of believing in a pie in the sky. Our culture wants us to become sad-you-see. It asks silly questions like, “If there is a heaven, whose wife is Elizabeth Taylor now?” or “If the big bang and evolution explains everything, why do we need God?” Today, it takes courage to trust in the resurrection of the dead.

Sunday, November 10, 2013
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