I’m always curious to see what people leave us when they go around slipping things in our paper box or hanging them on the mailbox. We get ads for painters, lawn maintenance people, power washing companies, and on and on it goes. The one I received the other day was a bit different.
At the top of the first section was “Who Are You & Where Are You Going.” Of course a grammarian would have fits considering there were no question marks at the end of either query. But, besides that, it was an interesting couple of questions. In addition, the first paragraph contained the typical tract question, “If you were to die tomorrow (guess they were not concerned about today), do you know for sure (their emphasis) where you would spend eternity?”
Now I’ll confess, that question,”If you were to die tomorrow…” has never done much to motivate me. Even when that woman, some 45 years ago, was standing next to that eighteen year old kid and his broken down car with her Four Spiritual Laws, that question didn’t interest me. However, when she began talking to me about me, that got my attention. It irritated me some, but it got my attention. Yes, she walked through the four “laws” but, as she did, she talked to me. She engaged me and asked questions that made sense to me. Did I feel she was pushy, absolutely. Was I offended at times by her comments, you bet. Did I pray the prayer in order to get rid of her? Yep. Nevertheless, she left that booklet with me and I took it home and set it on my dresser.
Now, back to the premise of the pamphlet. I struggle with the idea of getting people out of hell first and worrying about the rest later. In my mind, if there were ever a foreign concept to the New Testament teachings of Christ, I suggest it would be that one.
Yes, the New Testament talks a good deal about eternal life. However, that life comes at the end of this life and it’s this life we must live as Christ-followers and that’s not an easy task. It’s hard to be a disciple of Jesus. It’s challenging to find yourself swimming up-stream a good bit of the time. It’s not enough to sing “Jesus loves me this I know.” We are challenged by the biblical text to know that our commitment to Christ is a life-commitment. Not just an eternal life commitment, although that’s the reward, but a here-and-now life commitment. Failing to explain that responsibility to people before we ask them, beg them, or cajole them to pray-the-prayer just seems inappropriate.
I look forward to a life eternal in the presence of the Almighty. I may give a passing thought about the privilege to enjoy a bit of fire insurance but that isn’t what motivates me. What is infinitely more important, or should I say eternally important, is the assurance of life – an abundant life – through Christ. When I read the Bible, from what I can understand, there is no get-out-of-hell free card. It cost Christ everything in order that, through him, I might be equipped to live a life that glorifies God.