Modern Churches May Have an Incorrect Focus
This discussion does NOT question anything at all in the Bible. However,
it DOES challenge some ASSUMPTIONS which seem to be universal in
Christian Churches, Clergy and Christians. No aspect of actual
Christianity is altered, and all Bible-based Lessons are unchallenged.
- Christians attend Church for a variety of reasons. Certainly,
Worshipping the Lord is the best of them! But another is a somewhat
selfish motive, that of trying to ensure entry into Heaven after
mortal life ends.
- Ministers know that is a prime reason that people attend
Church and we all give many Sermons related to that matter!
- In general, such Sermons tend to emphasize that we are
all to build up a CV (curriculum vitae) that includes
long lists of wonderful accomplishments, or what are called
- This theme seems based on a flawed assumption, that the Lord
does not already know about the many wonderful things you have
done during a Christian life!
- The theme presented here is NOT based on trying to present
a "glowing history report", resembling a "job interview",
but instead providing a "snapshot" for the Lord of
EXACTLY WHO WE NOW ARE.
- The premise here is that the Lord may not care so much about
what you might have done in the past, but WHO YOU MAY HAVE NOW BECOME, as a
result of any efforts at emulating Jesus.
- This approach might be cause for considerable re-evaluation
by millions of Christians who seem to assume that, as long as they
have made a simple statement of requesting the Lord as Savior, and
of then regularly attending Church, they are somehow "GUARANTEED"
of entry into Heaven! They were Taught that, no matter what Sins they
did during any given week, as long as they went to Church and asked
for Forgiveness, the Lord constantly is willing to give them a
"brand new start" (or tabula rasa) every week,
and all past Sins are then erased and forever gone. That has always
seemed like an unlikely way for the Lord to run the world, as it
permits and even encourages rampant Sinning!
This new concept seems to put great emphasis on an aspect of
Christianity which is commonly overlooked, that of Sanctification,
a life-long learning process regarding attempting to learn Christian
thoughts and behaviors. Regarding the Christians who seem to have
a very superficial view of Christianity, they may not have the
"absolute guarantee" that they now assume.
We have all ASSUMED that Christianity had pretty much figured out
what is involved in trying to get into Heaven.
A central reason that many people attend Church is in trying to ensure
entry There! I am now wondering if ALL Churches have a basic concept
This logic is pretty "deep" and it took me several weeks to
work through all the implications (that I can comprehend!). Any time
some human tries to "fully understand" God's Plan for
humanity, there is a problem in that we are certainly not smart
enough to TOTALLY understand. Granted. But I believe the following
logic indicates that we may have all been Taught to focus on
some concepts that might be ineffectual!
Churches and Ministry all seem to agree that there is some sort of
"scoreboard mentality" at the Gates of Heaven. Catholics
(and others) insist that "doing Good Works" is centrally
important toward any ability to get into Heaven. Protestants have
different attitudes, but still there seems to be an ASSUMPTION that each
person will be required to "list off the accomplishments" that
the Lord might be Impressed by.
But how can that be true? The Lord ALREADY knows "everything",
right? Why would He need to hear "applicants" reciting what
resembles a "job interview"?
There is no doubt that there is wonderful value in doing Good Works,
and there is no challenge to that here. The only adjustment in
interpretation is related to the FACT that the Lord ALREADY KNOWS of
every Good Work that all persons had done during their lives. And so,
whatever the process is regarding Evaluation toward being allowed
into Heaven, it seems extremely unlikely that it would be in re-hashing
any such listing for the Lord.
I have come to realize that His interest is nearly certainly rather
different from that. He wouldn't necessarily care what you HAD done, but
what you ARE NOW. Christians and Churches seem to acknowledge that, but
seem to have lousy comprehension of what that must mean.
A central consideration is that Christianity CENTRALLY ACCEPTS that all
humans are flawed and therefore commonly commit Sins. There are other
religious which INSIST that followers accomplish perfection in thought
and behavior. Christianity is somewhat unique in ACCEPTING that we are
not capable of that level of perfection! We are certainly ENCOURAGED
TO TRY TO BE PERFECT, but all know that we are incapable of actually
accomplishing that perfection.
Which means that we Christians ALL have a life history of having committed
Sins. Most of the Sins are likely to be fairly small and not tremendously
serious regarding consequences. But we EACH have certainly done some
really bad things in our lives. BECAUSE we are "human".
I have come to think that the scene at the Gates of Heaven is EXTREMELY
DIFFERENT from what has been assumed by all Churches, Ministry and
Christians! I now think that we each might be asked ONE QUESTION,
and by our response, His Decision would be made!
"Describe to me the FIVE WORST THINGS you have EVER done or
Now, being God, He already KNOWS the answers to that. But is the
"applicant" prepared to "be deceptive or evasive to
God"? Wow! If so, that person would probably be handed a shovel!
Is the "applicant" "oblivious" to having done
terrible things? ("No, Lord, I have NEVER done any really
terrible things in my life".) Except, again, He ALREADY
KNOWS that the "applicant" has done MANY such things!
Wouldn't that be an indication that the "applicant" was
lacking in awareness and Compassion and Responsibility?
Again, I would think "a shovel".
There are many other ways that "applicants" might try to
"get tricky" regarding answering such a horribly difficult
and painful question. (again, I suspect, a shovel). Deviousness
or Deception or outright lying is NOT what the Lord wants to have
inside Heaven, At least, I assume that is the case.
However, IF the "applicant" was "brutally honest"
and expressed and described five things that he/she believed were the
worst actions or thoughts ever done, that PERCEPTION of having failed
and the HONESTY of stating it, seems to me the most spectacular way of
convincing the Lord that the "applicant" DESERVED to be
allowed to be in the Presence of the Lord forever.
An "interesting part" is that each person would likely have unique
standards of judging what were truly terrible things done. "I caused
my little brother to get flunked out of Third Grade and have to repeat
it." "I cheated on my spouse a hundred times." Or once.
"I robbed a store and got away with it." "I caused
someone to be killed in an assumed accident."
Some documents of Church Fathers indicate that they considered it a
horrific Sin if they misspoke in reciting the Lord's Prayer or missaid
a word in the Mass, their standards being apparently far higher than
ours are today!
This is interesting because a lot of possibilities might be very different
from the perception. "Killing someone in clear self-defense"?
"Abortion, when the baby was clearly going to be born with extreme
birth defects"? Would those belong in the "five"?
(I have no idea.)
One INTERESTING aspect of this, if it might have any validity,
is that WE can "see how we might do", at any moment of our
lives, in the event that we pass on during the next minute! DON'T
let anyone else see or hear your responses! The subjects are of
no one's business to any other mortal (unless you have done serious
crimes which deserve societal punishment). These are ABSOLUTELY
private matters, between you and the Lord.
I have long thought of a similar concept, where a person is asked to
"list ten Sins which you have committed". That concept
always noted that EVERYONE first laughs and says they have committed
many more Sins than that, but in actually trying to "write down
a listing of ten specific Sins", it is NOT as easy as it sounds.
THIS concept expands that to (possibly) represent the very CORE of what
Salvation actually is. It is NOT that you can recite 27 Good Deeds you have
done, or stated any of the other "job interview type" responses.
It "presents your deepest being, stripped bare of all protection,
KNOWING that your answers are certainly ALREADY KNOWN by the Listener
and that they will (somehow) be intimately involved in determining
your Eternal fate!"
Given that "pressure of performance", I can easily imagine a
lot of people using skills that they have developed in their
business and social lives regarding "trying to minimize their
failings and even trying to 'spin' in self-promotion". Or all
the other disappointing things that we humans seem capable of doing
when we are severely stressed in a critical situation. Exaggeration,
deception, spin, "creative history", even lies.
All of which would be REALLY bad ideas, given the Listener!
Think about this for a while. Even if this should not be the actual
process regarding trying to get entry to Heaven, it seems to be a
valuable exercise to do. From time to time, you are encouraged to
see how YOU might respond if the Lord asked YOU that question!
In any case, it seems to provide an insight into how Honest and Truthful
and Aware you are capable of being, regarding matters that you certainly
would rather "absolutely forget"!
My thoughts are that Ministry, having presented themselves as
representatives of the Lord, may be asked to describe TEN worst
instead of five. I suspect that the standards expected of those
who try to Teach is probably higher in this way.
I fully recognize that this is a very unusual concept.
This presentation was first placed on the Internet in October 2009 .
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Carl Johnson, Pastor,
A Christ Walk Church