“He’s in a better place.” … or … “Her pain is over now.” These are the things said of those who have died that we have liked.
“I hope there’s special place in Hell for him.” … or … “Hell is too good for her.” These are things said of those who have died that we have despised.
We have become everybody’s judge. If we personally believe that there may be a God (or angels or a Heaven or a Hell), we have a tendency to judge people’s worthiness or unworthiness for Heaven. If we view things from an atheistic standpoint, we judge that the person who has died to have just ceased in his or her existence.
We have made ourselves the experts of other people’s destinies, and it doesn’t stop there. We also determine our own self-worth for Heaven … and even Hell.
“I’m not that bad a person.” … or … “I’m a good person.” … or … “Compared to other people I know…”
We have a scale of measurement against which we judge everyone around us and even ourselves. But from where do we get this scale and just how accurate is it?
Have you ever heard the expression that a broken clock is right twice a day? That pretty much sums up our ability to be right in our assessments of where a person should go–or has gone–after death. We can’t always be wrong, but I can say with confidence that we are never right. That is, we are never right if we are using our own self-made scale to determine the worthiness of an individual for a home in Heaven.
Okay, here’s where I’m going to hurt people’s feelings or make people angry. Please, know that my desire is the opposite. I never want to bring undue anguish into people’s lives. Just like you, I want everyone that I like to go to Heaven and everyone that is evil to go to Hell. At least that’s how I think when I’m making judgments based on my emotions. But the fact of the matter is that our personal feelings have nothing at all to do with where a person ends up after death. It is 100% based on a final decision that every individual ends up making. And each destination is determined before he or she dies. (That means that your own after-death destination is 100% on you.)
Here’s the painful reality for all of us. We all have people that we’ve known in life, some of them very close relatives and friends, who will not be in Heaven. It’s heartbreaking. And, unfortunately, all of the love that we have for them will never get them there. We need to be aware of this for some very important reasons:
- We have to keep the message about Jesus, His love, His sacrifice, and what all of that means … honest.
- We have to keep in mind that just because a person is nice, good, giving, and loving does not mean he or she will go to Heaven. So we have responsibilities to them before they die.
- We have to ultimately look at our own mortality and what that means for our own post-death lives.
I live with regrets. I’m free of them for short periods of time, sometimes even weeks, but the regrets always come back to haunt me. I have friends and also people I didn’t particularly enjoy being around, not to mention relatives, who have left this world unprepared. The regrets are based on the fact that I failed in my responsibility to share Jesus with them.
One of these people died from a heart attack at 21 years of age. Another committed suicide. One was brutally murdered in front of her children. Yet another died a slow painful death from cancer. These are only four of my several regrets. Fear and peer pressure kept me from talking with them about who Jesus is and what He did for them.
Fear and peer pressure. I mournfully shake my head because of this realization. Could I have made a difference in any of their lives before they departed this world?
To my knowledge, none of these people had a relationship with Jesus. If I had made a decision to talk with each of these people, would it have made a difference? I don’t know. Maybe not. But here are two nagging thoughts that I have: First, might sharing Jesus have made a difference, to the point of one or more of these individuals coming to know Jesus and avoiding Hell? Second, if I had shared Jesus, I wouldn’t have been having that first nagging thought about these people for all of these years.
It all comes down to this… We have to acknowledge the truth. The honest truth is that without Jesus all of us would be going to Hell. Heaven is not our default destination; the other place is. We have to have a relationship with Jesus to make it to Heaven. In fact, Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father [in Heaven] except through Me.” No matter how much we want to think that someone who has died is “in a better place,” without Jesus he or she is, sadly, not.
Maybe you dispute what I’ve just said. Want to find out if you are good enough for Heaven? Take this Good Person Test to find out.
Jesus desperately loves you. He desperately loves everyone that you know. He gave His life so that anyone who wants to can have a relationship with Him and get into Heaven without having to be concerned about being “good enough” to get there. The only responsibility that you have is to receive His gift of grace–forgiveness.
Once you know the Truth, the Truth will set you free. And once you are free, you can help others to find that Truth.
Is it something that we can make up, or is it something that just is, regardless of what you or I want?
Here’s the truth about truth. It can bring joy and it can bring heartache. While we can never force another person to accept the truth, we can certainly rid ourselves of the burden of not having not shared it.