Yesterday at church we heard the reading from the Gospel of Mark where Jesus talks about removing whatever you need to remove in order to get into heaven. If your hand or foot or eye is keeping you from heaven, cut it off or pluck it out. Better to enter heaven maimed or blind then to not enter heaven at all.
What a powerful thought.
In a very palatable, yet hard to comprehend way, Jesus is saying do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever you must to get into heaven. Jesus knew it was not our hands or feet or eyes that were the cause of our sinfulness, but our heart, our weakness and our desires that lead us away from God.
However, to cut to the chase, Jesus makes it extreme. He made it personal.
Why? Because the consequence is hell. Period.
“…it is better to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire. Where there worm does not die and the fire is not extinguished.“
Our actions have immortal consequences.
Adam and Eve refused to sacrifice themselves to obey God and were cast out of Eden. In order to teach us the value of sacrifice, God made Adam work the land and gave Eve labor pains. For when we work the land, it may be hard, it may be difficult, but it bears fruit. Labor pains may be excruciating and tiresome, but the reward is a child of your own creation to which you can embrace with love.
From the beginning God is teaching us sacrifice has rewards.
Jesus came to bridge the gap created by Adam and Eve’s sinfulness and offer us a way back, but he did not obliterate responsibility and consequence.
So, in prayer, we should look at our lives and see what is between us and Jesus? Is it pride? Is it greed? Is it gluttony? Is it lust? Are these the feet and hands and eyes that are barring us from heaven?
Wouldn’t it be easy if God were to simply say “Hey, listen, pizza is your downfall. If you don’t eat pizza again for the rest of your life, you’re in. One slice however, it’s fire city.” How simple would it be to remove pizza from your diet?
Unfortunately, it’s not things that are in our way, but our desires and our human failings that weaken us with temptation and open us up to sin.
Sacrifice has rewards. Actions have consequences.
We should all take an honest look at our lives on a daily basis and remove whatever stands between us and heaven. It may not be easy, but the alternative is hell.
Let’s pray we all meet up in heaven. If I am blessed enough to make it, I’ll be the guy with no hands, feet or eyes, but joyful beyond expression.