Behold, one came to him and said, â€œGood teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?â€ Matthew 19:16 (WEB)
I spent some time today chatting with a man who was very concerned about his father. â€œJâ€ said that his father went to church all his life but â€œIâ€™m not sure he really knows Jesusâ€. Like many of us, â€œJâ€ wanted his dad to profess his faith so that he, â€œJâ€, would know that his dad will be going to heaven when he dies.
When I am looking for answers to questions I usually start in the gospels to say what Jesus says. In this passage of Matthewâ€™s gospel, Jesus tells the rich young man to â€œobey the commandmentsâ€. (v. 17) When the young man said he had done all of that and wanted more assurance of his destination, Jesus told him to â€œsell everything and then follow meâ€. (v. 21) Hmmm. Jesus did not say that the man had to make a â€˜public profession of faithâ€™, did He? Although if I obey Godâ€™s commandments and follow Jesus, my life is a profession, isnâ€™t it?
â€œI think we will be more surprised by who is in heaven than who is not in heaven.â€ â€“ Henry Neufeld
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 (WEB)
When I am considering the salvation or spiritual health of someone, I believe that I first must remember that Jesus is the only one who will be judging who goes to heaven and who does not. But maybe I am not attempting to judge another â€“ I am just concerned about them. Then here are some questions for me to ask myself:
Am I living my life in Spirit and Truth? Am I who I profess to be to others? More importantly, does Jesus know my true profession or would He say He never knew me? (Matthew 7:23)
Am I servant like Jesus? (Matthew 25:21-46)
If I answer those questions in the affirmative, then whoever has my concern will have known Jesus through me. It is the first, even best step, that I should take. Then, when the Holy Spirit gives the opportunity, sharing my experience with Jesus can be given to the person. Questions come. That is what Jesus did. He proclaimed the Good News as He lived the Good News.
Remember also Jesusâ€™ parable about the vineyard workers. (Matthew 20) Jesus told parables to teach. And I think a side benefit to His parables was to often â€˜pokeâ€™ at religious leaders who thought they had all the answers. In this parable, Jesus reminds us all that whether we have worked in His Kingdom all our life or whether we said we work for the Kingdom on our deathbed â€“ the reward is the same â€“ eternal life. And as I consider this parable I come back again to the important point â€“ it is not my job to judge and determine the rewards of others. It is the job of the One â€“ THE ONE â€“ who is the owner of the vineyard!
So let us be about sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ â€“ but make sure we are sharing it like Jesus did.