Within our society, we have certain groups of people that we revere more than others. Right up there at the top is the American soldier and the veterans, especially those who fought in a war. We revere policemen, who risk their lives on the streets each night as we sleep soundly in our beds. We revere firemen, who brave the flames. We revere teachers, who have committed themselves to teaching our youth. You need not look far on Facebook to see someone praising one of these people for their sacrifice. We see people highlighting our failings at supporting these people at the level we should and expressing a desire to help them before we help anyone else.
As the most revered of all of these, let us consider the American soldier, who has signed his life over to Uncle Sam, who may be called upon to die in order to protect American ideals. Of all the good things that a person might do, what could be better than sacrificing one’s life for the good of others? There is no doubt that we owe a great debt to the American soldier. And these others as well.
But as I think about all that these people have done for our country, there isn’t a one of them who has done enough to go to heaven. No American soldier, no policeman, no firefighter, no teacher. Not one of these much revered people have done enough good to go to heaven. That may anger some people. What audacity for me to say that the American soldier, of all people, isn’t worthy of heaven. But others will nod their head in agreement. Either way, it isn’t my desire to be critical of the American soldier or to say they don’t deserve far more than most of us. Yet, I say with certainty that I will enter into heaven and be welcomed like a man returning home after a long journey.
If you really think about it, that ought to make you angry. I’ve sacrificed far less than the American soldier, but I claim that I’m going while no American soldier has done enough to get there. I claim to have a home in a city so wealthy that there is a street paved with the finest gold, but there are American veterans who have no home. Not only that, I’m ungrateful for what I have. Do you realize that, without the American soldier, I might not have a home in heaven? This is true, because were it not for the American soldier protecting the right to preach, I might never have learned what is needed to gain entry into heaven. But not one of them has done enough to go to heaven. Does that make you angry?
There has been much talk about who deserves to live in the United States and who deserves our assistance. I’ll be the first to say, not me. I don’t deserve to be a citizen of the United States; I was born here. Perhaps my Native American ancestry gains me a few bonus points, but no child deserves to be born to the parents they’ve been born to. Some are born into abusive homes. They don’t deserve that. I was born to good parents in the greatest nation in the world. I don’t deserve that. And if I don’t deserve to be born where I was born, I certainly don’t deserve a home in heaven, but I have one.
Jesus came and died for me. I had no right to ask him to. I’ve done nothing to deserve it. I couldn’t even pay a night’s rent to stay in my home in heaven, but Jesus gave it to me anyway. To make it worse, I was his enemy. And as if that were not enough, I am ungrateful. I can’t even fully comprehend what the Lord did for me and what he has promised me, but I tend to take it for granted, as if it is the most natural thing in the world for me to have the title deed to a home built in a city with skyscrapers so tall you can stand on the top floor and see the blackness of space. I seldom stop to appreciate that I can talk to the ruler of the Universe any time I want.
He didn’t come to save the deserving, but the undeserving. He didn’t come to save the citizens of heaven, but the aliens. He didn’t come to save the wealthy, but the homeless. Even with all the great things they have done, no American soldier has ever done enough to go to heaven. No policeman. No fireman. No teacher. No pastor. No nun or priest. When you think of the splendor of heaven, it is not hard to see that we are incapable of doing enough. But that’s okay, because Jesus did it for us. God, became flesh and lived among us. He died on the cross and rose three days later. Nothing we can do will add up to the value of what he has offered us. If he lived by our values, he would turn us away. I am thankful that he does not. He offers eternal life to us who do not deserve it.