1/22/12 Cho 26
Is it selfish to want to go to heaven? Surprisingly, many people think so. The old saying “Too heavenly minded and no earthly good” is still around today in many people’s minds. They theorize that to be sincerely good one must just be good naturally, ignoring any promise of heaven or threat of hell. A conversation at the grocery store with a young man from Hong Kong – “Cho” – reminded me of that today. He is atheist and his criticism of religion was that “people shouldn’t do good things just because they want to go to heaven, they should do them just because it is the right thing to do.” I gave him what I thought was a good answer, that the real goal of Christianity is a restored relationship with God and the joy of being in His presence forever, as opposed to worldly ideas of rewards in heaven. In John 17:3, Jesus said “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Knowing God and being in His presence sounds wonderful to me, but not to Cho. He said “I don’t really want to be with God in heaven or punished in hell, I just want to be left to myself.” I guess it makes sense that people who don’t want to believe in God or obey Him wouldn’t think it is “Heaven” to be in His presence. Maybe that’s why the Bible often uses worldly comparisons to describe the joys of heaven and pain of hell, because they are what worldly people understand and relate to. And maybe that’s also why wanting to go to heaven can seem selfish to them.