Heading to heaven??? Part 1

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I can’t tell you how many people I hear say that they are a “Christian” yet when asked about any particular tenets of the faith or indeed of their own Christian walk, are left speechless and unable to answer because they are little more than what I term “cultural Christians” – those who believe they have a right to the title because of where they live,  I vividly remember a conversation I had with a Roman Catholic lady in a staunchly Republican are of West Belfast.  We were all attending a meeting with a shared interest in a medical condition we each suffered from, so at least had that in common.  Somehow the conversation turned to religion – a dangerous topic at any time in our Province but definitely a no-go one in the heart of IRA Belfast for a Protestant at any rate.  Yet I stood my ground.  It went something like this…. Me “I’m a Christian”, “Her “Sure, isn’t everyone?”  Me “How so”  Her “Well, if we’re not Christians, then what else are we?” Me “But Christianity isn’t a right, nor a hereditary faith” Her “Well, I’m not a Muslim, not a Hindu, not a Protestant, nor any other religion, so I’m a Christian.  I live in a “Christian” country so I’m a Christian!!”.  After another 10 minutes bouncing the topic around by the end of which she was starting to get just a shade more antsy than I wanted given I was there to talk about my role as chair of a medical charity, I had to just let her have her view and hope that what little I did manage to say about “true” Christianity might be used to turn her around at some later point.   But sadly in this little part of the world, religion has come to be more than a hot button topic given how many lives have been affected by the actions of those insisting on using it as a weapon complete with actual weapons to back their views up.  But before I finish this little portion, let me just be very clear on one thing – the “war” here has never been about religion.  Sure, it’s been used to whip up sentiments and attitudes etc but the Troubles were always primarily about power, control & eventually money – on both sides.  Left to themselves, here as elsewhere, Protestants & Catholics can live happily together and often forge lifelong friendships (one of my very best friends currently is an RC girl who connected with me through my charity work.  In the very early stages of our developing friendship we started discussing our differing views on faith, and discovered we had polar opposite views on many important topics from abortion and sexual attitudes etc, to who the Black Pope was etc, yet never once did it impact our friendship to any degree.  If anything I think it’s strengthened it – we don’t discuss faith matters as much these days purely because of circumstances but are very comfortable doing so nonetheless).

Belfast itself has more churches and chapels per square mile than probably even the Bible Belt in the US and is only now beginning to see an odd one being taken over for demolition.  Yet during the “Troubles” it was still interesting to see how the Protestant paramilitaries (more than the IRA) insisted their part in the war was for “God and Ulster” somehow totally missing the 6th Commandment as if God would somehow be pleased with them for continually breaking it.  But while the IRA never openly put God anywhere in their statements much, they were many times equally tied in to religion in some sense usually through priests who had no problem burying “volunteers” having a firing “squad” sendoff or Chapels providing safe haven for others etc.  But aside from all of that, most of those involved on both sides saw themselves as “Christian” “good Catholics”, or at the very least likely to make it to heaven.  Even murderers often think they have a right to heaven!!

If you’re not a Christian in any sense of the word let alone a “true” one, think on this.   If everyone could just die & go to heaven, what would be the point of living here?  After all, if there is a heaven to start with, then obviously there is a God Who created it and logically also the universe, earth & everything therein, and He could have obviously just not bothered creating us to live on a decaying planet in decaying bodies etc.  He could have just kept us in heaven to start with and save all this hassle.  But He desired more from us than initially mankind (aka Adam & Eve who by the way were real people!!  I’ll write up something on why you can believe that soon) wanted to provide Him – love and a reciprocal relationship.  Should have been easy don’t you think, but sadly there was a fly in the ointment aka Satan, who told the first lie to Eve, who determined she then knew better than her Creator and His “rules”, and the rest is history.

So ponder on all those things and if you find you then maybe are intrigued enough to return for Part 2 I’ll outline a bit better on the dangers of assumption of your eternal future and guide you on how best to ensure you DO end up in the most desired final destination.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” Philippians 3:20-21

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A truly remarkable relationship…

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godThere is one thing that Christianity offers over every other single religion on the planet – well, more than one, but aside from a risen Saviour and forgiveness of sins and a multitude of other vital requirements, our God is the only One with whom we can actually have a relationship!   Unlike the Muslims or the Hindus, Buddhists etc who worship unknown gods and can never be sure if their prayers are even being heard let alone answered, we have a God who actually resides within us through His Holy Spirit and with whom we thus have continual commune.   We have a God who desires to hear His people talk to Him and tell them what He already knows.   And we have a God who absolutely works to help us to hear Him speak to us in a multitude of ways, but especially through our conscience.   How many times you will hear of a Christian who says that they were about to undertake some action, but something stopped them, or they knew instinctively to do something would be wrong.   And I’m not talking the obvious sins here, but more the subtle ones that Paul spoke about when he said that if someone thinks something is wrong, then it is sin for him to do that thing, even if for another person it may not be e.g. eating pork.

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