How many times have you heard the statement, “You just have be a good person to go to heaven.” “As long as I told kill or steal and my good outweighs my bad, I’m good.” People who hold this view will be sorely disappointed and disillusioned in the end. No one is good enough to earn their own salvation or get at heaven on their own without God. Why?
Because, sin separates us from God. An example: Imagine the Grand Canyon in your mind. It takes up half the state of Arizona. Imagine yourself on one side and heaven on the other. Despite how good you think you are, mankind is stranded on one side for eternity with no bridge. This is the picture that the Bible paints for us, and this is why the Bible states that a person cannot get into heaven with any sin on their soul, for heaven is the place of perfection. That’s why we need Jesus.
If you stole something small, you would have to pay it back with money. If you stole a car, you would have to pay it back with jail time. The Bible says that the consequences of sin is death… and hell. Most people stop reading there, and they miss the incredibly good news! The good news is that even though we are supposed to die and pay the price for our sins, God loved us so much that He chose to come to earth and die in in our place.
Imagine that you are about to be hit by a big truck as you cross the street and at the last minute someone pushes you out of the way and takes the hit for you. This is what Jesus did for us on the cross, and if you have ever wondered why Jesus came to earth, that’s why.
They say any good parent would die out of love for their child. At five-years-old, I vividly remember walking by a house with viscous German Shepherds that tried to jump the fence. Shaking in my shoes, I asked my mother what would happen if the dogs jumped over. She told me that she would fight the dogs for me so I could run away. I said, “But mommy, you will die.” She replied, “Bryan, I’m happy to die for you so may have the chance to live.”
What sacrificial love! My mother was happy to be ripped to shreds by dogs so I could be saved. Yet, this is exactly the love of God for you and me. Look at a crucifix. Jesus wasn’t ripped apart by dogs, but by humans, and He shows His great love for us by dying for us so we could be set free. Though He was innocent, Jesus took our punishment. He was stripped of His clothes while the Roman whips (the flagella) ripped apart and shredded His body from the neck to the ankles. They tore His skin off his body sometimes creating holes in His body that bled fiercely. All of that was the penalty for our sins. Remember, we can’t pay back the penalty for sin with money or jail time but through death. Every drop of blood that fell to the ground was our sins being forgiven and our debt being paid back so we could go to heaven. Jesus was building the bridge back from earth to heaven.
Next, they beat a crown of 1-2 inch thorns into His skull. they ties a 100-150 pound crossbeam to His back and made Him carry that to the place where they would kill Him. Then, they nailed him to the cross with 6-8 inch railroad spikes where He hung for 3 hours in painful agony for you and for me. Then, He died and all debts were paid. The bridge was built. Heaven was opened – opened for anyone who follows Jesus with all their heart.
God wants nothing more than to bring us to heaven. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter if you have killed 5 people or had ten abortions. If you are repentant, God can and will forgive you. Not reluctantly, but joyfully and eagerly. there is nothing He wants more. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been but where you want to go in the future. Jesus paid a huge price for our salvation, and it’s yours if you want it.
You have to make a conscious decision for God. Heaven is not free! As much as He loves us, God is not just going to hand us a trillion dollars or eternal life for doing nothing – for sitting on a couch, or making up our own rules, and for merely calling ourselves good Catholics when we don’t live it most days of the week. Remember, heaven is the place of perfection. We actually have to live our faith and walk the way to heaven that He mapped out for us. We can’t get there our own way.
So, we need to pray daily, go to the celebration of Thanksgiving (Mass every Sunday), and we must seek to purge ourselves of those things that keep us from God, making ourselves better. Most of all, we need to foster a deep relationship with God who loves us more than anything, ask for His forgiveness often, and walk the path to heaven hand-in-hand with Him. Catholicism is more than just words. It’s action. It’s a relationship. It’s a relationship with God who gave up everything for us, even His life! Since He gives all He has to us in love, could we give more to Him?
If you ever doubt God’s love for you, look at the cross!