Barbara Walters presented a two hour special on ABC called: Heaven — Where Is It? How Do We Get There. However for me, the issue of our response to God is much bigger than Heaven.
I tend to be a procrastinator. I think much more about the present than about the future. So the possibility of avoiding Hell and going to Heaven has never motivated me.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to go to Hell and I do want to go to Heaven, but that’s in the future. I am much more concerned about how I live my life right now. Am I doing the right things? Am I overcoming the evil that is within me? Am I making a difference? Am I serving others? Am I pleasing God? Those are the things that put a passionate fire in me.
However, if you look at history, avoiding Hell and going to Heaven have been the major motivators in the church’s marketing — the Hell of a big stick and the Heaven of future gimme gimme. Salvation is usually offered as fire insurance and/or lavish mansions in the sky.
The offer of eternal fire insurance and a ticket to Heaven may get someone to join a church, to say a prayer, and/or to attend religious meetings; but that motivation seems weak and short-lived. After a while, people become satisfied. Their Christianity is all about the future, but not much about present day life, so they get bored and their hearts get cold.
Yet, we humans need daily motivation, not just pie in the sky. So what motivates me to hunger for and to seek God with all my heart? Jesus promised victory over the power of sin. I long to live in His freedom from moral bondage in my life and to help others do so.
Jesus said that His followers would do greater things than He did. When you read the book of Acts you see that His early followers did amazing and miraculous things. Now that stirs me up and keeps me motivated. Lord, let me experience Your power like those early Christians did!
Jesus is wonderful. Getting to know Him, is the greatest motivation. A daily, personal relationship with Him is the absolute best thing that life on earth has to offer. Like the old hymn says: “He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share, as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”
Peter, the fickle former fisherman who denied Christ but was later turned into a faithful, fired-up follower of Christ, said that we can experience in this life, “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Now that’s motivation. That’s what people are looking for — that’s why they party hard. They want to get the Hell out of their life so they are desperate for joy and they try to manufacture it with alcohol, drugs, sex and rock and roll.
But the amazing, enduring, heart-throbbing, hang-over free, guilt free, overwhelming joy that comes from following and obeying Jesus, cannot be found anywhere else. Whew! Now that’s real motivation!