1/26/14 Dan about 24
Is it selfish to want to go to heaven? Ever since 911, when it was commonly understood that the religious zealots who committed these horrible acts believed they were earning a place in a heaven filled with earthly pleasures, I believe people are fast becoming ashamed to admit they would like to spend eternity in heaven. Atheists, like a young man named Dan I spoke with at Whole Foods today, will readily say “I don’t need the reward of heaven or the threat of hell to be a good person.” Other people, including many who profess to be Christians, say in so many words that it is beneath them to be concerned about the next life; they are too busy doing good in this one. In fact, they are often uncomfortable talking about eternal life, because to do so is to acknowledge it is on their minds and risk being seen as only doing good in this life for selfish reasons. But is it really selfish to want to go to heaven? What makes heaven heavenly, anyway? In John 17:3, Jesus defines eternal life: “And this is life eternal: that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent”. What makes heaven heavenly is God himself! It isn’t selfish to want to be with God for eternity. It should be the focus of our existence. What this verse also means, however, is that if eternal life is knowing God, then eternal life has already begun for believers. We can’t be accused of being heavenly minded and no earthly good because, in a sense, heaven has already begun on earth! In fact, it’s the time we spend knowing God, in relationship with Jesus while in this life, that allows us to be any earthly good. The deception of those who don’t want to admit their desire for heaven for fear of losing eternal rewards is that they are still depending on their own goodness rather than the goodness of God for salvation. When I talk to an atheist like Dan, I believe what Paul wrote in Romans 1, that whether they admit it or not, deep down everyone has a basic belief in the Creator, “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” There really is no such thing as an atheist. And heaven is very, very real.