"No, mommy," she replied with her childlike eagerness to learn.
"Heaven," I said, "is the most beautiful, magnificent place you'll ever see."
Her response was perfectly timed and in all seriousness, "Like a hotel?"
How do you not laugh at that? But, then I got to thinking, there is spiritual meat in what she said. Think about it, the finest hotel you've ever been to, or maybe the one you've seen on tv. Have you ever just walked into a place only to find your jaw drop to the floor in amazement? The grandeur of it is breath taking. Your every need is satified with one call. People at the front desk act as though they are so glad you are there. The little touches: a mint on your pillow, fresh flowers in your room, an infinity pool for your leisure. Surely, there is some connection between heaven and a hotel. The beauty, the majesty, the greeting when you walk in the door. Perhaps in the eyes of a two year old, heaven is like a hotel. Big, beautiful and fun.
Yet, those of us on earth often forget about the majesty that awaits us. Instead, we live as though we are heading to an eternal Motel 8 instead of the Ritz-Carelton. We live as though the temporary lodging we have on this earth is as good as it gets so we better get as much as we can. Tightly, we grip our possessions, our money, our time because we want to pile them up for our own personal use. God has convicted me on this one lately. I keep living as though this is it but yet I know, it is not. And in a God economy, there is no recession. No loss of wages. No downsizing. You gotta go all or nothing.
"Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
-Matthew 19:21 NIV
I don't like that verse. Because it challenges me and taunts me simultaneously. I want to be perfect. I want Christ to be proud of me. I want treasure in heaven. Yet, I know something inside of me fights this command. When you look at people who gave and how Christ and God responded to them in the Bible, it wasn't the people who had a lot and gave a little that got a penthouse suite in heaven. No, it was the ones who had very little and gave it all that got that special treatment.
I think the thing that strikes me lately is that Christianity is a radical religion. Unfortunately, I think we've all got it so wrong that we are going to get a talkin' to eventually. It was meant to be radical in action, not in speech that discriminates, judges, and condemns. It wasn't meant to be a political party. I don't think Jesus would have been found on Capital Hill fighting against homosexuals or abortion. I think He would have been with those people who make those decisions and showing them love in order to give them the desire to change. I don't think Christ would have been using millions of dollars to build church buildings, but rather, feeding the poor and giving to the orphans and widows. His actions would have made no sense in our world. He would have had more money than Bill Gates and more power than Oprah, yet He would have been giving it all away so that He could be completely humbled by His father and could show us the truth about riches and powers.
So, for those of us who are earnestly seeking Him, we have to start living like this is not it. We have to live like there is the finest dwelling is awaiting us soon and so we can easily let go of the things that we have but a fleeting ownership of.
I'll leave you with a story that happened recently. I was at a stoplight and a man was on the corner asking for money. I had been convicted lately about giving to those in need, especially the impoverished so I pulled out my wallet. I had two twenties, three ones and a couple of quarters. I wish I could end this story by saying I gave him everything I had, but I didn't. I got the ones together and the quarters and put my hand out the window as he limped across three lanes of traffic with his cane. I started to pat myself on the back for my generosity but then a pang of conviction swept me. I didn't give him everything. The reason? I was heading to the fair. I had forty dollars to waste on fried foods and rides I didn't even want to ride. That was going to be a good explanation, right? Sorry, Christ, I was going to start giving all but I really wanted a funnel cake and some ribbon fries. The opportunity Christ gave me to be like Him, I totally blew it for calories that my body didn't need.
I blow a lot of opportunities He gives me. But, the good news is He always gives me more...
Here's to striving for the Heavenly penthouse...
Until next time,