September 17, 2010

Trouble in Paradise

Fridays are my day off- and it is a good thing! In the Fall through Spring, it is a great day for me to be quiet and peaceful. Maybe I'll start or finish new projects, write some blog articles (including that now long overdue Disney Park Countdown finale), go to the gym or whatever. But it always begins with a morning cup of coffee and some time reading the Bible and praying.

Reading through the gospel of Luke very slowly these days. I'm asking God to take these truths from His word and make them real- and to challenge me as to where my life falls short of His standards. Today, I'm in chapter 13. Jesus addresses the people telling them everyone who tries to enter heaven will not be allowed in. Ouch! So, who does?

Earlier in the chapter, Jesus uses a parable to explain. A man notices that a tree hasn't borne fruit but is using the resources of the earth, suggesting to another man it should be cut down. (Early "carbon footprint" discussion! As always, Jesus is a revolutionary!) The other man pleads for another year before making the decision.

Here's the connection between productivity and who gets into heaven. Surprisingly, it is not working to get in (see the book of John chapter 3 in particular and the writings of the Apostle Paul). Work is only our expression of our love for Jesus and our changed lives that reflect his priorities. The real answer lies in where we invest, where we are "grounded", what soil we plant in.

If our focus is on the pleasures of the earth and all its delights, we won't make it. But if our focus, our grounding, is in loving and delighting Jesus Christ and living our lives with integrity, then we have found the true and only narrow way to an eternal life with him. It's either Heaven or Hell at the end of all things. And because God has given us the choice to choose which way we will live our lives, we get to decide how to make the most of it in this temporary life with eternal results.

You might ask why I see trouble in paradise. It would grieve my heart to know so many of my family and friends will not be there. Their focus is on money and other pleasures, and I watch them drift away from the God they once loved. They have decided to place their trees in other soil.

For others, they either see God as a fallacy or only look at him as fire insurance, assured their individual trees won't be destroyed in the fire. It is quite risky a conclusion to make when Jesus says the gate to heaven is narrow!

What can I say? If I am wrong and historic Christianity is a fairly tale, and God doesn't exist, I've lost nothing. If Jesus truly is the only way to eternal life- which He said he is- then I have gained it. May my heart stay steadfast to Him- and yours as well!

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