“Can you go to Heaven if you are a Christian who doesn’t participate in church?”
That question was asked during the sermon yesterday at Awestruck Church. Most people (rightly) responded by saying “Yes!”. Our salvation/eternal destination isn’t determined on my connection to the local body of believers. That’s true.
Still…Something still bugged me about how easy of an answer it was for everyone.
It was as though there is a belief that, because Heaven isn’t dependent on our love of the church, the two are completely unrelated.
That I don’t believe.
Heaven is, no doubt, a wonderful place. It’s good to look forward to being there someday, but we aren’t there yet. In between our salvation and our eternal destination is Church. It’s common in our culture to treat our local church as a place that is for “me” and about “me”, and that’s a really broken attitude. The Church is not ours. It’s His. It exists for God’s glory and purpose. We didn’t create it nor does it exist for our pleasure.
I think most Christians can get their minds around that.
What might be a little bit harder is re-reading all of the above paragraph and replacing the word “Church” with “Heaven”. Heaven is no more for our pleasure than the local church. Heaven is going to be wonderful, but I don’t think it’s going to feel natural. It can’t. Too many of us live our lives independent and selfish. Those will be the first things to be stripped away in the end. It will be tough. The good news is we have church as a practice run! If we can figure out how to live in community now we will be all the better prepared for what’s to come. If we can’t, well, I guess we still get to go…but the question has to be asked: Do we want to?
If we don’t love the church, a place that exists for us to connect with God and other believers; why do we think we would love Heaven?