I have heard dozens of jokes that start out – So a guy dies and goes to heaven, and St. Peter ask him…
We all know these are jokes, but they stem from a deep-seated understanding when we are talking about heaven; not everyone get’s in.
I have met people in a few different categories regarding their own heaven readiness.
Some consider themselves too cool for heaven – “I am going to hell with all my friends and we will party for eternity.”
Then there are those who say – “all roads lead to heaven. I can follow any spiritual leader – Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna.”
Others believe they have not done anything so heinous it deserves eternal flames – “I don’t do anything that hurts anyone else, I am sure I will be OK when I get to heaven. Hell is for pedophiles and evil dictators, not for suburban soccer moms and guys with great lawns.”
Still others figure that their regular attendance in Church, and busyness doing Church stuff will surely get them in – “I am in Church every Sunday, not like the Joneses, they never darken the door of a church except Christmas and Easter, weddings and funerals.”
Some take a balanced approach, a sort of pass/fail life standard - “My good deeds out weigh my bad deeds, so the scale is definitely in my favor”
Another group looks back at a point in time – “I prayed a prayer when I was in VBS and my leader told me I was going to heaven.”
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ ~ Matthew 7:21-23
I want to spend a couple days (or however long it takes) digging into these strong red letters.
Let’s start with who Jesus is not talking to.
Jesus’ is not talking to that first group I mentioned – those who are planning on hell. They are not the ones standing at the pearly gates expecting to get in.
Likewise He is not addressing folks who follow Buddha, or Mohammed, or Krishna.
He is talking about people who call Him (Jesus) ‘Lord.’ We know from many other things Jesus said, that He (Jesus) is the only way to the Father.
But even among those who recognize that Jesus is the way there are vast numbers who have not given their lives to Him. He is not addressing this SMO crowd. (My dad’s term for folks who only showed their face in church on Sundays – AKA Sunday Morning Only.)
So who is Jesus talking about? Who is it that will hear those most horrifying of all words "Depart from me?"
I will share my own story of standing at that gate and hearing those words.