For the spiritually-inclined, the general consensus remains that “good people” go to heaven. Others are convinced there is no God or heaven, that scientific discoveries have done away with religious folklore, but at the core also believe that a good God would not allow chaos or imperfection on earth.
It baffles people that a lifetime child molester could be justified by faith while on death row and find eternal life in heaven, while a man who selflessly helps people and loves his wife and children could be sent to eternal suffering for not knowing Jesus as Lord.
It doesn’t make sense to us because we operate on a scale of merit. The more good stuff we do, the better we are. But this system ignores a reality no one wants to believe: we’re all bad people. We can’t break even. Humanity reeks of imperfection, and perfection is the standard to get into heaven.
So yeah, we can work all day long, and our good deeds will benefit humanity without question. And God likes that stuff too — but really, it’s about who you know. And if you know God, you’re a part of the family.
Cheat code (v. 3)
Check out the case of Abraham. The man was a liar and an impatient man; on an extreme plane, you can even call him an adulterer. Yet in his weakest moments, he believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.
Having Jesus is like knowing the Konami code. Regardless of where you’re at, you can enter the code and you have special privileges. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve hit the reset button.
Spiritual anarchy (v. 15)
When Jesus died, the curtain to the temple was split in two, giving everyone full access to the “holy of holies.” It eradicated the need to achieve a level of spiritual perfection that the Jews demanded in order to witness the presence of God. It was the modern day equivalent of ripping the U.S. Constitution in half. *gasp*
But what Jesus did meant no more tightrope walking to get to heaven. Are you working harder to be a “good person,” or are you taking the time to get to know Jesus? If you’re a Christian, the consequences of the law have been eliminated. You’re just spinning your wheels.
Work doesn’t work (v. 16)
Are you aware of how much God loves you? For many unbelievers, a belief in the Christian God looks arrogant because Christians believe God favors themselves more than anyone else. It’s simply not true. Jesus didn’t die for good Christians; He died for the inept, the dirty, the ne’er-do-wells. If you’ve experienced the pride of Christians directly, I’m very sorry. They’re humans too.
The love of God extends beyond makeup work and extra credit. Suddenly, you have a 100% in your class, and there’s nothing you can do to change your grade. That’s what grace looks like. If salvation required work, it wouldn’t look like love, and it certainly wouldn’t look like grace.
Sold out (v. 21)
Part of faith is recognizing that God really does have the power to do what He says He can do. The fact that God has breathed life into existence (which man didn’t invent), that I woke up this morning and I had hot water because of convection (which man didn’t invent), primarily sourcing from a sun that is a miniature version of countless other stars in an impossibly huge universe (which we can’t possibly begin to invent) is plenty of proof for me. But many people didn’t have that experience or knowledge and still trusted God, which demonstrates great faith in my opinion, because humans were still around to mess it up for them.
Realignment (v. 25)
When your car is making funky noises, or it’s doing that thing when the steering wheel has to be turned 20 degrees counterclockwise in order to drive straight, you have to take it to a mechanic. He’ll examine the engine or wheel alignment and make the adjustments to repair your vehicle. You have to trust his work and assume that the car will be in an improved state when you drive it off the lot. This is called faith.
When we put our trust in God, a spiritual realignment occurs. Our souls are redirected, pointed at heaven. This cannot be done within ourselves; we have to trust the person who knows the soul inside and out, even though we’re the ones operating our bodies.
We all need spiritual realignment, no matter where we come from or under what conditions we were born. It is imperative that we stop trying to operate on ourselves, that we begin to understand that faith is the prerequisite for salvation, that trust in God is the only means to fix our imperfect souls, and that work is only fruitful in the context of life on earth and rewards in heaven, not a way to save ourselves.