So to continue. Last night while driving down the mountain Shawn and I started talking, and it was there that it all clicked for me. We have this Christianity/Religious thing all backwards. We have been completely doing it wrong. The way I was taught with youth group, youth leaders, Christian magazines, and pastors was that in order to get to heaven you needed to. 1. Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior 2. Repent and turn away from your old wicked lifestyle and 3. Stop doing wicked and bad things. If you did not do these things you would burn in hell for all of eternity. For a young christian the list of sins that you will burn in hell for kind of goes like this:
- No drinking
- No smoking
- No drugs
- No secular music or strange fire (as some call it)
- No bad TV
- No bad movies
- No cussing
- No sex
- No dating
- No heathen friends
- No secular books or magazines
- No babies out of wedlock
- No living with a man or women before marriage
37-40Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."
All God wants from us is to make a decision and to acknowledge that "Yes. You are the Son of God" John 3:16-18 (The Message Bible)
16-18"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
But where we make our mistake and where we lose people is by insisting upon living under our convictions. For some people it's not so easy to just stop drinking or smoking. There are good Christian men and women. Pastors, and teachers, and Prophets who have a glass of wine, or cigar occasionally. Does that mean they don't love God? Does that mean they are going to hell? No. Because all the Bible says is "BELIEVE IN ME AND LOVE ME". That's all he wants. God does not demand like Pastors and Youth Pastors and Camp teachers that you get rid of your secular music (hell! that's how my husband pays for my expensive shopping habits!), God doesn't ask that you stop smoking. You know what? I don't even think he cares! As long as you believe in him and you love him and you love others you are fine! When I cuss because I cut myself or stubbed my foot, yeah He probably doesn't like to hear it. But you know what bothers Him even more? When my sister and I would fight and call each other names...Why? Because we broke His only other rule, which is "Love others/Don't hurt others/Don't Curse others". Pornography and adultery is blatantly breaking rule number 2. A husband (or wife) hurts their partner when they engage in pornography or lust after someone else. "LOVE ONE ANOTHER"
So you see, I now wonder if Michael Jackson really went to hell......If he believed that there was a God and he believed Jesus was the Son of God he did all he was required to do. There is that whole issue of confessing our sins before God, but don't we all do that on a daily basis? Maybe not everyone goes into their prayer closet and begins to unload a laundry list out loud. Maybe some go through out their day and think "Wow, that wasn't a good idea to yell at my boss. Shucks. I shouldn't have done that.". That's confessing. Confessing is merely speaking aloud a truth even if you don't know exactly who you are saying it to.
Matthew 22:14 (New American Standard)
14"For many are called, but few are chosen."
Now I'm no Bible scholar. I did go to Bible school and did pretty well academically, but I could still be wrong here. But my interpretation of this scripture. Perhaps everyone is not called to live a completely pious lifestyle. We are all called to confess that Christ is King right? After that is done, we are then required to love one another. If we do those things, we have done what was required. Everything else is extra curricular or being "chosen".
I think back to my mention of Oprah in Part 1 and how she certainly follows the commands. But it's that "Love one another" that she has down to a T! Better then some Pastors and Church communities. Oprah, gives and gives, and gives, and gives. Yes, she might give Wash Machines and Cars, and Books and KFC coupons, but she still gives. She loves. And I believe she is a believer. She might not go to church every Sunday and she might live with Stedman, and have physics on her show. But she's done what was required.
This post is getting really long so I think I should just sum it up as this. We (Christians) have made this thing extremely more complicated then it needs to be. We put far to many requirements on ourselves and on others then Jesus puts on us. I think that Michael Jackson did go to heaven. I think he believed in God. He believed Jesus was the Messiah. But he was also still lost. He was an ignorant man who did not know any better. But he had a heart that hungered for truth, a heart that for 50 years searched and searched for what true happiness would be. God saw his heart. God knew how much that man hurt inside. And I think He forgave him.
I think that when we get to heaven we are going to be very surprised by those who are there and those who aren't. Finally coming to this revelation is completely changed how a view so many things in the world. Trust me, I'm not looking for an excuse to cover up any of my past mistakes. I humbly repent to God every day for the things that I have done. But I have decided that I'm not going to live under this cloud of shame or be worried about what is going to happen to me after I'm gone. I love Jesus, I believe he is the Son of God and I am going to strive every day to love even the mean old lady next door who hit my car. I'm going to stop putting so much stock in ancillary things. I'm going to stop putting so much stock in "I'm a Pastor", "I'm Leader" "I run prayer groups!" "I'm a Prophet". How about "I'm a lover of Christ".
I'm just going to love Him. The rest will be worked out on it's own.