Who Gets Into Heaven?

Who gets into heaven?

As I travel the highways of my great nation, I frequently tune into Christian radio stations and listen to preachers preach and theologians express their opinions. One topic that frequently comes up is that, in their opinion, one must be a Christian in order to be allowed into heaven once you approach the pearly gates. They can quote from many Bible verses to back up their opinion.

However there appears to be some room for disagreement on this subject. In fact, if we are to believe the Bible, it might be accurate to scream out: JESUS HAD A DIFFERENT OPINION.
To support my own opinion, I am going to examine at least one portion of the Gospels on the subject. Let us open your Bible to Luke 10:25 where we will find The Parable of the Good Samaritan. If you lack a Bible, you can find the text on the internet without too much effort. I urge you to read it for yourself as while I intend to discuss it, I am not going to post it in its entirety.

Jesus gave us this parable after being asked the following question by an "expert in the law":
Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?
So how does the parable go? I am going to paraphrase for brevity. Again I encourage you to read the text for yourself. My version:

A man was traveling from one city to another. During his trip he was beset upon by robbers who stripped him of his belongings and left him lieing battered and bleeding alongside the road. When "good Jews" (described one as being a priest and the other a Levite) came upon him during their own journeys and saw him, they crossed to the far side of the road to avoid him and continued on. But then a Samaritan came down the road and encountered the man. He rushed to his side, dressed his wounds, took him up and put him up in an inn and took care of him. Before he departed the man's side, he paid the innkeeper to look after him with promises to return and cover any additional expenses that might come up.

Now it is important to point out that Jesus used a Samaritan as an example of one who's ACTIONS were worthy of entrance into heaven. You see, Jesus was a Jew. We can safely assume that the person who asked the question was a Jew. However Jesus specifically pointed to compassionate actions by a Samaritan as being especially worthy of commendation while he seemed to point an accusing finger at "good Jews". Please understand that a Samaritan is not a Jew. Samaritans worship the God of Abraham, however they are not Jewish. Samaritan communities (their communities are so small it might be more accurate to describe them as neighborhoods) exist within the Holy Land. They still stand apart from the Jews. It is my understanding that many modern Samaritans will still ostracize their daughters if the daughter marries a Jew.

So must one be a professed Christian to get into heaven? Jesus seemed to be saying that kindness and compassion... walking the walk instead of just talking the talk... were going to be more important to God when you get to the pearly gates then which religious label you paste on your forehead before you approach.

I have wondered how Jesus would tell that parable if he was faced with the modern world. Perhaps it would be titled one of the following:

The Good Buddhist.
The Good Hindu.
(Gasp) The Good Moslem.

Or perhaps, if he lived in America, he would stick closer to home. Perhaps it would be:

The Good Mormon.

One thing of which I am certain is that if Jesus lived in America today, he would use as examples of those crossing to the other side of the road so called "good Christians" who through their actions proved they were Christian in name only. If Jesus was God (personally I am not sure) one thing we could be fairly certain of is that He might withhold a certain measure of justice only for those who sought to use His name to justify evil.

I could go on preaching on this subject at some additional length, but I do not want this to become a novel. If anyone wishes to engage me in conversation, I would be happy to extrapolate.

My conclusion? One need not be a Christian to get into heaven. A good agnostic is more apt to get into heaven then is a bad Christian. Bad Christians better hope God is as forgiving as Jesus, maybe He will be willing to forgive them.


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