During a road trip to Anaheim (not really a road trip, but it took a while in traffic) with a couple of guys from church to the Rock & Worship Roadshow, we had a conversation that veered into being real. And part of it was about blogging and how on a blog, our church blog, or even my own blog, the goal was to be real.
My blog has always been 100. I felt that it’s hard to enough to live in this world being who I am, or trying to be something, and I needed an outlet to be real. And so the conversation led to how sometimes as Christians, we aren’t being real. And sometimes, we try to put up an image that isn’t relatable to someone who doesn’t know who Jesus is. In fact, at many times, our actions of trying to be a holier than thou leads us to make certain people not want to care about Jesus.
I know that feeling. If I wasn’t a believer, I wouldn’t care about Jesus. The perception of who He is and what the church has done to impact my reaction towards Him has not been good. And this led to our conversation turning into what we’ve done to hurt the image of God.
One topic in particular was the acceptance of homosexuals in the church. My church has turned the corner in a sense and started to get people in the church family to realize that even though someone lives a different lifestyle, that doesn’t mean that they should be shunned. The church is a place for people who are different. And realistically, if we judge people just by their differences from us, then we won’t really get them.
If a person is gay, does that lead them straight to hell? That’s always been a fearful message that people have been sending out for so long. That because a person is gay, they are damned forever. But that’s not true, right? If being gay is a sin, does God not want them to come to heaven? Absolutely not. The discussion then led to this question: Can sinners go to heaven?
The answer of course is yes. Everybody is a sinner. And everybody can go to heaven. So yes, sinners can go to heaven. But are we telling that message to people?
What if a person cheated on his wife? Does that person automatically revoke his option of heaven? What if a person stole? What if a person killed another person? Is their life doomed into eternal damnation? No. Of course not.
But that has been the message that we’ve been spewing for so long. In fact, if I put my non-Christian glasses on, that’s the message I see all the time. There is no message of hope, rather than a strict message of despair. And that message doesn’t seen very God-like.
I would like to think that in this day and age we’ve come more accepting of people who have done wrong in the past. Or maybe we’ve gotten over people who act differently than us. After all, the church was designed for people who didn’t belong. It was designed for people who were outsiders, pariahs and the boogers of the world’s eye.
So back to the question: Can sinners go to heaven? We know the answer, but are we sharing that answer? So many times we put ourselves in a situation where we don’t portray that message. Instead of a message of hope, we scare people away with fear.
Of course, yes, we also must share the good word and what it means to repent and accept Christ. But who’s going to listen to that message after we’ve scared them away? Maybe one day we’ll see a picket sign that reads “Sinners can go to heaven — find out how.” Sure looks more inviting than some other alternatives.
I hope that I am on a path to heaven. I am a sinner. But I would love to be in heaven with a bunch of other sinners. That would be great. Because even though we’ve sinned, we found our salvation. And hey, heaven is a place for sinners. Now isn’t that a great story to tell?