Luke 13:22-35 (winter AD 29)
Will only a few people have their sins forgiven and go to heaven?
Make every effort to approach God in the less popular way. The way that involves admitting you cannot be good enough for God, and cannot do anything to earn your ticket to heaven. The way that involves repenting not just of individual sins, but the entire direction of your life, which is towards self-reliance and away from God. The way that then involves following, prioritising and wanting God’s will above your own desires, attitudes and opinions; submitting to him when you think you know better. The way that involves having unpopular views and accepting that people will hate you because of them, and because of your refusal to join them in immorality. The way that involves being part of a family to which you are accountable. The way that involves the privilege and responsibility of telling other people that they need to repent.
Many will see the idea of God and forgiveness and they will want it. They will even consider all it will involve and still, in theory, like the idea. But when it comes to it, most will not follow through. Their own desires, or their opinions, or delusions of control will make them stop short of actually going through the narrow gate.
But it won’t stop them saying ‘God, please let me be with you’.
Then God will point out that they don’t know him because they want their own idea of him and not the real him. To defend themselves, they might mention that they’re nice people, or that they go to church, or that they once made a profession of faith, give to charity, love their family or haven’t committed and crimes.
But God will send them away, telling them that their attempts at righteousness leave them as just as evil as the next person. That making up their own rules for how God could treat them is just as wicked as not trying to reach God at all. The wickedness of making God in your own image is just as egregious as the wickedness of lying to yourself that there’s no God at all.
And if those people could see who IS in heaven, it would just make their despair and anger even worse. They would see less important, less accomplished, less do-goody, less impressive, poorer, less intellectual people from all over the world worshipping God at his side, while they were left out.
Those who considered themselves most deserving of heaven would find themselves looking in at those they considered least deserving, because the ‘least’ people humbly submitted to God, repented, and loved him for who he is, not how they tried to make him into.