We are commanded to love God with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul, and with all our strength. That’s a big challenge. God has made it easier for us by sending His incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, to us. The human nature of Jesus is as human as we are, and the Gospel summation of His life on earth has provided us with a lot of information that enables every person of good will to understand His character.
My first recommendation to my readers is this: why don’t you ty to love Jesus as much as possible? John Lennon started out his song “Imagine” with “Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try.” It really is easy to love God if you try. Sadly, someone in the brave new world Lennon was singing about (where people were “living life in peace”) cruelly shot Lennon to death nine years later.
God is never going to do that to you. That is one of a million good reasons to love Him. God has already made the first move in loving you when He commanded you to love Him. You really can learn to love Him in return. Imagine all the reasons you think God is good and try to feel love and trust in Him. Your life would be completely turned around if you really loved God as much as you possibly could.
Why Don’t We Love God?
God is the proverbial “nice guy”, honest and compassionate, unbelievably powerful and prejudiced in our favor. If He were purely a human character, all of us would want to be His friend. Since He created each one of us, we should all jump at the chance to be His friend. But we don’t. Why is that? Because we are all burdened with concupiscence, the instinctive attraction to wickedness rather than righteousness.
Jesus called Satan the “prince of this world” (John 14:29-31). Satan became that when he succeeded in tempting Adam and Eve into disobeying God. Ever since then, concupiscence has influenced us with the effect of his alienation against God. We have to struggle to overcome the effects of concupiscence. God has allowed us to live with this burden so that we can demonstrate our love and fidelity to Him under adverse conditions. We have to defeat the lure of Satan within our souls.
If we did overcome that attraction to the world, the flesh, and the devil, nothing would shake our love for and fidelity to Jesus. No political figure in the world could lead us into defiance of God, no family relation, no member of our race, nobody. If we were that devoted to Jesus Christ, our suitability for heaven would be certain. In addition to that, we would evangelize the whole world as He commanded us to do in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
The indigenous Indians in North and South America suffered considerably because of the failure of the Christian European nations to evangelize the whole world by baptizing and bringing native peoples into the Church. If they had done so correctly, there would be, today, many subgroups within the Church of various native tribes, now fully Christian and enjoying equal status with other Christians.
Instead, some of those European Christians simply conquered them, made slaves of them, and stripped them of their land and wealth. The unfortunate result is many native peoples do not trust Christianity and are reluctant to accept the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Likewise, I have heard of many Christians who, sadly, became alienated and separated into rival Christian groups. They speak of a Protestant heaven and a Catholic heaven. How many heavens are there? How many Christs? I submit that there is only one Jesus Christ because there is only one God, and that means there is only one heaven. Our Lord, when He was on earth, referred to His heavenly Kingdom with many mansions. I’m tempted to think that the many mansions in heaven refer to those positions He has in mind for these various groups, but I know that there won’t be “divisions” in heaven like there are on earth.
Heaven is for those who believe
Heaven is for those who believe in His Gospel preached to all nations and all tongues as the Gospel has been preached for two thousand years. Why are there so many divisions of that one Gospel in this world? Does Jesus Christ divide who He is to satisfy one hostile group or another? Jesus Christ knows exactly who He is and what His gospel is.
He said “Without Faith, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” Protestants claim, “You are saved by Faith alone.” Faith is what? Faith is accepting, without absolute proof, the teaching of someone who knows. Jesus Christ is the one who knows God.
Yet, if you insist that revelation was made solely through the written Bible, rather than through Scripture together with the Tradition of the Church, I’m not going to tell you again what I think is the right answer. I am going to caution you that Jesus is a witness to everything you say. He wants you to be a witness to Him by your affirming what He had to say about His teaching. If you argue on the wrong side of this issue, you are helping to divide Christ’s Church, not reunite it.
Jesus called His apostles together and said to Peter: “You are the rock and upon that rock, I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:18). If someone told you that the rock meant the rock that Peter was standing upon – as some Protestant preachers do – you must be careful how you present that teaching to others. Peter is the Latin version of the name in Hebrew: Cephas. The Roman people spoke Latin. The name Peter (Petrus in Latin) is transliterated from the Greek word for “rock”. Christ referred to Peter’s name, not the rock he was standing on.
Who is Peter?
Peter became the head of the Catholic Church, appointed by Christ Himself. If you spent your whole life arguing against that and are wrong, can you imagine the relationship you will have with Christ in heaven? The Catholic Church is the largest Christian Church that claims to be founded by Jesus Christ. (The Orthodox also lay claim to that title, but they entered into formal schism in 1054 and have never reunited with Rome.) Western Catholicism to this day maintains that claim despite Martin Luther’s rebellion against the Church and many of its teachings in 1517, which drew millions more into formal heresy and schism.
Who is Martin Luther to preach against Jesus Christ? All the other Protestant denominations claim to be started by a man such as the King of England or some theologian, none of whom have the credentials of Jesus Christ or His Apostles.
Lucifer wants to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ, and fomenting internal division is an effective way to do that. My advice is to get your thinking straight on who Jesus is. This is not a game. Heaven awaits those who believe in Christ and struggle to promote His Church. Hell awaits those who refuse to believe in Christ and wage war against Him and His Church.
The Imperative to Love
So, what do I advise my readers to do? Try to understand who Jesus really is and to love Him as fully and completely as you can. He is God Himself become human. You can understand human nature much better than you understand divine nature. You see from reading the Gospels how Jesus acted toward others. He is acting that way toward you.
If you loved Him as He loves you, what a wonderful love story could grow out of that: a Lover, who never takes advantage of you, never treats you with the slightest disrespect, who is always looking out for your best interest and willing to die to protect you. Why don’t you try to love Him totally and perfectly?
If so, you would never get into nonsensical arguments or try to twist His word to catch someone else in a supposed error in their thinking. If you became an intimate confidante of Jesus, everyone would notice it, and so would our heavenly Father. You cannot earn a better success in your earthly life.
At first you will find it awkward to speak to Someone who doesn’t speak back to you in normal speech. But God has an influence on what you think. That’s how He answers. Gradually, you will start to wonder “Where did all these new thoughts come from?”
Don’t you realize that you will live in the resurrected body in God’s heavenly kingdom forever? Forever is a long time for human companionship. Wouldn’t you aspire to an eternal, intimate friendship with the God who created you? After you die, it is too late to make it as personal and as satisfying as it could have been had you been working on it in this life through faith with the one you should, even now, really believe is God Himself come to you in human flesh.
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Author: Maurice Williams
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