All this week my siblings and I have been at VBS. My church goes about this a little differently than most: instead of doing it in their own building for congregants’ kids, they go into the community, holding VBS at three different locations during three different weeks, and inviting kids from the local after-school Bible Clubs, as well as from church. In this way, the focus is more on outreach than on just having a fun “daycare” for kids who already go to church – something I really appreciate.
As it was, the group of six- and seven-year-olds who were put under my charge were all churched, I believe. At least, all of them possess a Bible of their own. And yet, on Wednesday, when I asked them if they knew how to get to Heaven, none of them knew. Only one offered an answer, “By being a good person?” So instead of spending my block of time quizzing them on the Bible lesson they had just heard, I took them through the Wordless Book and explained the truth to them.
Today’s review time was somewhat similar. By this time, my group that had mostly consisted of 3 kids during the week had been reduced to 2 very quiet ones: a little boy named Peter (whom I believe is of Korean heritage), and a little girl we called Tammy (her real name is about twenty letters long; I think her family are of African heritage).
I started off by asking the pair if they could tell me what the story had been about. Apparently neither one was paying attention, and they weren’t able to tell me. But it was probably for the best, because it opened up opportunity for an interesting conversation. First, I quickly summarized the story, which had been about Jesus appearing to His disciples after His resurrection, and then about His ascension to Heaven and the promise that one day He would return. I figured there wasn’t much point in quizzing them on the story, so instead I turned things around, “Do you have any questions for me?”
Seven-year-old Peter pretty soon opened up with some questions about Heaven. “What color is Heaven?” “Where is Heaven? Because if you go up past the sky, you just go to outer space.”
His next question was a little confusing. I can’t remember for sure his exact words, but it was something like this, “Is Heaven a mixed country?” I wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to know. “What do you mean?” I asked. And then he asked more specifically, “Will only people from America be in Heaven?”
He asked it so seriously, and my heart just went out to him. I don’t know why, but for some reason he was really stuck on this issue. I started to explain how the Bible tells us that in Heaven there will be people from every country, but he still seemed stuck. “Are Asians Christians?” he asked. I think that was the heart of his original question. Maybe he has family still in Asia – or maybe he considers himself more Asian than American. I don’t know. Whatever the reason, he needed to know that Heaven was for anyone.
And that’s what I was able to tell him. That anyone can be a Christian, as long as they believe in Jesus, ask Him to forgive them of their sins, and then love God and want to obey Him. It doesn’t matter what they look like or what country they are from: God loves everyone and wants everyone to be able to go to Heaven someday to live with Him.
And then the conversation shifted just a little. He wanted to know if non-Christians really go to Hell. Tammy wanted to know this as well. So I told them that this is true, which makes God really sad, because that’s not what Hell was originally designed for, and He wants people to be able to go to Heaven. Which is why He sent Jesus to save us. And I stressed again what we must do to become Christians, so that someday we can be with God in Heaven.
It just made me so sad to realize that Peter seemed to think God was only for some people. As we moved on to the next activity, I told him, “Peter, I want you to know that God loves you – no matter what you look like.”
God does love us. And He demonstrated His great love for us in sending Jesus to die for us.
See, God looked down at all of us floundering in our sin, and He wanted to save us from it. That’s why He sent Jesus, so we could be set free from our sin and live for Him the way we were meant to.
Most people today don’t understand that. They have the opposite problem of little Peter – they know that God is a God of love, but they ignore the fact that He’s also a God of justice. They think God should just accept them and all of their sins and let them all into Heaven just on the basis of His love.
But that’s not the way it works! God loves us too much to let that happen. He wants to set us free from our sin – not continue to watch us chaining ourselves to our selfish desires.
I believe America as a whole has largely forgotten what love is. It’s become a romantic feeling that gives us license to do whatever we want – including letting it die. It’s become passion instead of purity. General acceptance of sin instead of gentle admonition of sin.
It’s this kind of thinking that’s gotten us to the Supreme Court ruling of this afternoon.
The homosexuals say, “God loves me, so I can do whatever I want.” How much they misunderstand – or choose to misunderstand! While modern “love” says it’s okay to follow our passions, God’s love says, “I’ll set you free from your wrong passions, and in their place I’ll give you a passion for what is right and good and true.” While Disney says “Follow your heart,” God says, “I’ll give you a new heart.”
The truth is not, “God loves me, so I can do whatever I want.”
The truth is, “God loves me, so He made a way for me to stop doing whatever I want and start doing what He wants.”
And that goes for everyone: no matter who you are. Christian. Non-Christian. American. Non-American.
He who does not love does not know love, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. . . . And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. . . . Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. (1 John 4:8-10, 16, 5:1-4)