Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
"...justified by His grace..." That's it. As my husband likes to say: "Simple!"
Thinking I had to be perfect in order to get to heaven, I tried to complicate simplicity with my own fuzzy ideas about my part in the attainment of heaven and the avoidance of hell. I harbor gratitude now for a godly perspective regarding eternal life.
Be perfect? Hardly, but there is much I can do to keep my feet on the path to righteousness. The first, most important thing I can do is to invite Jesus into my heart and to hang on to Him. The next thing I can do is to read the Word of God (The Holy Bible), asking for the knowledge of His will and the power to perform it. The third action step I can take is to find a healthy body of believers with whom to worship and fellowship, remembering always, that Christians are people, too, and there's no such thing as a "perfect church."
I have heard individuals remark that they can't, or won't, make amends, for example, with people they have harmed, until having made better progress in their own spiritual walk, or "until [they] are made of better stuff." The fallacy in this type of thinking omits the fact that it will probably take that amend-making to necessarily turn us in the direction of "better stuff."
Without our actions toward restoring relationships, we may find ourselves in spiritual limbo. We might wonder for years to come why we have lost a myriad of friends, why our families are fed up with us, why we don't feel better, and why we aren't behaving any better. How about restoring our relationship with God, today?
I have heard many non-Christians lament that they are not good enough to ask Christ to abide in their hearts, that maybe someday, if they "ever get good enough," they will then ask Jesus in. If we refuse to loosen our grip on this mindset, we miss the whole point of Christ's suffering and death.
We cannot make ourselves good enough; only the grace of a perfectly Holy God can do that. How shall we ever obtain this grace, necessary to the salvation of our souls, without coming to Christ, who according to the Scriptures, is the only One who makes heaven possible? It is only when I become willing to give up such distorted thinking that I shall hit first base. Once safely there, I know I'm on my way. Life won't always be easier, but it will be a whole lot better. All we have to do is ask.
What am I waiting for?
Do I think He'll say no? (I can guarantee that will not be the case. We are promised by God's own Word that He welcomes us with open arms - no matter what we have thought, said, or done, and that all the angels in heaven will rejoice.)
What if He says yes?
Today I choose to ask you, Jesus, to come into my heart.
Adapted from "Finding the Flowers in a Prickly World." You may email Dianne Finnegan Wilson by visiting www.pensepublishing.com