Being born in America is by no means a one-way ticket to heaven. Being born and raised in a Christian family won't get you there either. How about writing big fat checks to charity and playing golf with the pastor? Nope, sorry. An old song is coming to mind ... "Oh you can't get to heaven - Oh you can't get to heaven - On roller skates."
Anyway, going to church every single Sunday of your life and having a granny who prayed her heart out for you, won't get you there. Being on the board and heading up the bake sales doesn't make you a Christian. To sum it up, being a Christian has nothing to do with where you were born, the status of your family and how good you are. Being a Christian means that every morning we make a choice to follow the road that God has set before us.
Have you ever seen the movie, Pilgrim's Progress? It's a cartoon made from John Bunyan's famous book. Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory that was written over 200 years ago and it shows a man's journey from sinner to saint. Every time I watch this cartoon, I find myself weeping. The part that always gets me is when Christian finally makes it to the top of a big mountain. He has carried heavy bags on his shoulders. He is broken down and exhausted. He looks up to heaven and cries, "What must I do to be saved?"
An evangelist comes to him and teaches him about the cross. A light shines down on Christian and the burdens he has been carrying fall off of him. (This is the part where I always blow my nose and sob loudly.) It's a beautiful picture of a man coming to the end of himself and surrendering at the feet of Jesus. But it's just the beginning.
Christian has training ahead of him. He spends time with Interpreter, Passion, Good Will, Patience and Hope, among others. All of these characters help him along on his journey to the Celestial City. He meets a few bad guys along the way too, Mr. Vain Glory and Mr. Money Love being among them. They try to lure him off of the highway that will lead him to his final destination. He must learn to see through their deception and overcome their schemes. He has to go through the Valley of Humiliation and through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Finally he makes it and is at last welcomed into Celestial City. That is a joyous day!
Just like Christian, we are on a journey. Receiving Christ is just the beginning. We are entering into a whole new kingdom and a brand new way of living. Leaving behind the old life is difficult. We need Christian training and discipleship, so that we can learn about how God wants His people to live. There are trials and tribulations that we will walk through. We must keep our eyes on the road set before us and not be led astray by ungodly influences. We will share with others along the way. Some will join us for a while and then fall away and a few may walk with us, all the way to the end. If we stay on the narrow road, we will eventually come to the Celestial City and we will be ushered in.
Where are you in your journey? Are you seeking and wondering what you must do to be saved? Are you facing the cross and counting the cost? Are you journeying along? Have you been deceived and led off the road by one of the bad guys? Are you walking through one of the dark valleys? Wherever you are, I pray that you will find that narrow road and that in the end you will be able to say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7)