WARNING: THIS IS CONTROVERSIAL.
The other day, I was talking with one of my friends about Christian things (I believe he is Catholic) and he made a comment about the girl sitting next to him. He said something close to this: “Now, I know you don’t believe in God, but it’s ok because you’re a really nice person and you’re really good, and I think, if you’re a really nice person, you’ll go to heaven too.” This shocked me, and to be honest, it disturbed me quite a bit too. And here’s why.
I think there is a far too common misconception about Christians. I think a lot of people believe that Christians are Christians just because they act like Christ. I mean that makes sense, right? In that case, if the point of the religion is being like Christ, it really just means be a “do-gooder,” a saint, or a Gandhi. And if you are a “do-gooder,” a saint, or a Gandhi, then you will go to heaven. But like I said earlier, this is a common misconception. It is in fact very, very false.
You see, being a Christian is to be like Christ, but not just in actions. Because being a Christian is far more relational. The whole point of being a Christian is, to put it plainly, to be friends with God. So going to church at Christmas and Easter to score points with God or working at a homeless shelter to put in your heavenly community service for the year, that doesn’t count. Yes, I believe God wants us to do those things because it is pleasing to Him when we help others, but neither of them get you a golden ticket to heaven. Because heaven is not the reward for being good down here on Earth. It’s quite silly to think of it that way, really, because heaven is so much more.
In heaven, the pavement is made of gold. The fences are made of pearls. Think of what the mansions will be built of. Diamonds perhaps? But does it matter? If dirt equals gold, and instead of wood, fences are build of pearls, how much do those things which we treasure now not even matter? The real reward is being able to be with your best friend for eternity, to worship God forever, to be in His presence. Down here on Earth, the most important thing to me ever is my relationship with Jesus Christ. He is my guide, my leader, my passion, my hope, my joy, and all consumes my heart.
To be in heaven with Him for eternity is something so much more beautiful than the reward for being a “do-gooder.” To be in heaven is to be able to eat at a huge table with billions or trillions of believers [and being able to see all of them because we’ll have perfect vision]. To be in heaven is to laugh together at all of Jesus’ jokes and stories. It is to feel the warmest hug that ever did exist and to kiss the face of God. It is also a place of reverence and worship and dancing and praising. It is a place that does not need rain because the Spirit of God is enough to satisfy every thirst. There will be no jealousy, envy, loneliness, hurt, pain, broken hearts, hate, anger, global warming, disease, war, bombs, starvation, hunger, thirst, abuse, slavery, insignificance, death, teasing, bullies, pushing, shoving, cheating, betrayal, tears.
So, you can imagine my dismay at hearing that my friend who believed in God could say that this girl who did not know Him would go to heaven for being a “do-gooder.” Yes, she is nice, you can not doubt that, but she doesn’t even know Jesus. And if you do not know someone, how can you be friends with them? Why would she want to spend eternity with someone whom she does not know? Heaven is not merely the reward for a good life, it is the chance to finally see face to face the Friend, Savior, Redeemer, Creator, Lover, Groom, King — who is God.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”