Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” -Mark 10:16
Dear members and friends,
One of the most essential questions among Christians is, “How will I enter Heaven?” The message of heaven is an essential part of Jesus’s teachings. Truly, Heaven is the good news from God to humanity. Also, the hope and promise of eternal life is one of the main beliefs that distinguish Christianity from Judaism. The desire to enter heaven grew stronger over the nearly 2,000 years of Christian history, largely due to the surprisingly strong and persistent emphasis on Hell by Christian leaders. As a pastor in the 21st century, I have listened to many devout Christians expressing their desire to enter Heaven, not because they are sure of its existence, but because they fear the possible punishment of Hell. Somehow, the misunderstanding about Heaven, especially regarding how to gain entry, seems increasingly strong among many Christians.
Since Jesus is the one who taught us about Heaven, we should refer to his teachings regarding how to enter. In Mark 10, we read a story about a certain young rich man, who asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer to this question should be the answer to the Christian question, “God, how must I enter Heaven?” Some may still argue, but rationally reflecting “inheriting eternal life” and “entering Heaven” should be the same thing. To this, Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. You shall not defraud. Honor your father and mother.’” Interestingly, Jesus cited six out of the ten commandments! These six commandments cover our relationship with each other. This simple answer from Jesus clarifies two points for us: 1. Entering Heaven has nothing to do with joining a particular religious institution or performing a public confession in one’s belief of Jesus Christ as one’s Savior; 2. Entering Heaven has everything to do with how one treats other humans. In other words, entering Heaven could be granted to all humans who would keep the six commandments cited by Jesus as guiding principles in their lives. In next week’s message, I will further explore the story of the young rich man and whether or not he was able to find Heaven.
My brothers and sisters in God, let us take a moment to reflect on how we think of each other and treat each other. My prayers that you find love, kindness, acceptance and understanding in your heart.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee