How many people do you suppose actually make it to heaven? A few? About half? Most? Well, if you know the answer, give me a call. I’d like to know the answer as well. Because, truth be told, I don’t know. But, I do have an educated guess, which later in this article, I’ll share with you.
Jesus was asked the question. And, he punted. Rather than answering the question directly, Jesus did what he so frequently did. Jesus said in effect, “Look, I’m not going to give you a percentage of people who get to heaven, but I’m going to tell you HOW to get there.” Jesus then went on to say, “Go through the narrow gate.” And, of course, that’s a head scratcher. What does going through the narrow gate mean? Well, I think it means we’ll get to heaven if we live the way Jesus did. If we live a life of sacrificial love. If we put others first and ourselves last. If we serve rather than being served.
Jesus’ plan for getting to heaven is tough. Do we have to do it perfectly? No! We’re human. We cannot live perfectly Jesus’ plan to get to heaven. But, that’s okay. What we have to do to get to heaven is to get at least a passing grade on the Divine Test of Life. And, although even getting a passing grade is difficult, it is well within our ability.
I deal primarily with people who go to church. So, I suspect my conclusion is biased by that fact. But, based on the people I know, I believe a large percentage of them get at least a passing grade. In fact, I believe quite a few of them get B’s and even A’s. You may not believe that. However, my experience leads me to believe most people give themselves a much lower grade than does Jesus. Most people don’t give themselves all the credit they deserve.
Here’s a modern parable based on a true story. About eight years ago, I counseled a woman. Let’s call her Maggie. Maggie was depressed. She flat out told me she didn’t think she’d get to heaven.
I asked Maggie, “Do you love God and your neighbor?” She said, “Of course I do, but probably not well enough to get into heaven.” I then asked, “How many kids do you have, Maggie?” She responded, “Four. They’re 21, 17, 14, and 12.” I pulled out my calculator. “Well, your child have lived approximately 23,000 days. Estimate for me the number of things you do for them each day.” Maggie said, “Oh, I don’t know. At least ten.” I used my calculator again. “Okay, ten acts of love a day for 23,000 days is approximately a quarter of a million acts of love. What do you think? Will Jesus be impressed at the Pearly Gates? I know I would be. Don’t short change yourself, Maggie. You’re a good woman.”
Sometime today, do a similar exercise for yourself. I’ll bet you, like Maggie, have been short changing yourself.