So many times, religious people get caught up in “who’s in” and “who’s out” regarding heaven/the Kingdom of God. Instead of focusing on our own lives, our own sin, there is a tendency to do a lot of finger-pointing. We mask it under the auspice of “caring about other’s salvation” but, there’s this whole teaching of Jesus from Matthew . . .
1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.”
When Jesus was dying on the cross, two criminals were being crucified alongside him. Please read this account from Luke,
39 One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: “Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!”
40-41 But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.”
43 He said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.”
In those moments before death, the one gentleman merely asked Jesus to remember him.
That man experienced “salvation.”
If we were to weigh that against some “religious rules,” some would argue that he wasn’t “saved” because he did not do or say certain things.
However, in the eyes of Jesus/God, he experienced absolute salvation. There was transformation.
“Remember me . . . “ and based on his other words, we can assume that he knew Jesus was special. That’s all it took for Jesus to offer him the promise that “today, you will be with me in paradise!”
Salvation is transformation. And the more we transform ourselves into being people of absolute love, the more we are like Christ. And that paradise? It isn’t just when we die. It is here for us now. And living a life of love allows us to experience that.
Where can you be transformed today?
If you missed the Sunday message, here is a link.
What Do We Do With Our Pain?