Getting to Heaven
July 11, 2010
Welcome to today's worship service by the on-line Swedenborgian community
Open a Bible
Light a Candle
FROM THE BIBLE
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
There are some who believe that to live the life that leads to heaven, which is called the spiritual life, is difficult, because they have been told that man must renounce the world, must divest himself of the lusts called the lusts of the body and the flesh, and must live spiritually; and they understand this to mean that they must discard worldly things, which consist chiefly in riches and honors; that they must walk continually in pious meditation on God, salvation, and eternal life; and must spend their life in prayers and in reading the Word and pious books. Such is their idea of renouncing the world, and living in the spirit and not in the flesh. But that this is not at all true it has been given me to know by much experience and from conversation with the angels. I have learned, in fact, that those who renounce the world and live in the spirit in this manner acquire a sorrowful life that is not receptive of heavenly joy, since every one's life continues the same after death. On the contrary, to receive the life of heaven a man must needs live in the world and engage in its business and employments, and by means of a moral and civil life there receive the spiritual life. In no other way can the spiritual life be formed in man, or his spirit prepared for heaven; for to live an internal life and not at the same time an external life is like dwelling in a house that has no foundation, that gradually sinks or becomes cracked and rent asunder, or totters till it falls.
Getting to Heaven
It is easier than we think to go to heaven.
An 85 year old couple, having been married almost 60 years, died in a car crash. They had been in good health the last ten years, mainly due to her interest in health food and exercise. When they reached the pearly gates, St. Peter took them to their mansion, which was decked out with a beautiful kitchen and master bath suite and Jacuzzi. As they "oohed and aahed" the old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. "It's free," Peter replied, "this is Heaven." Next they went out back to survey the championship golf course that the home backed up to. They would have golfing privileges everyday and each week the course changed to a new one representing the great golf courses on earth. The old man asked, "what are the green fees?"
Peter's reply, "This is heaven, you play for free." Next they went to the club house and saw the lavish buffet lunch with the cuisines of the world laid out. "How much to eat?" asked the old man. "Don't you understand yet? This is heaven, it is free!" Peter replied with some exasperation. "Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol tables?" the old man asked timidly. Peter lectured, "That's the best part...you can eat as much as you like of whatever you like and you never get fat and you never get sick. This is Heaven." With that the old man went into a fit of anger, throwing down his hat and stomping on it, and shrieking wildly. Peter and his wife both tried to calm him down, asking him what was wrong. The old man looked at his wife and said, "This is all your fault. If it weren't for your blasted bran muffins, I could have been here ten years ago!"
Jesus said: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light."
I want you to imagine that you lived in a world in which the god that had created you had given up on you. Imagine your own heavenly God, so upset with you that he wanted nothing to do with you. We can so often have this picture in our lives. Our false ideas about God can take away our enjoyment. The life we need to live that would be pleasing to God is often seen as a very hard and very joyless thing. God is often seen as angry or stern and a ruling taskmaster. Not a very joyful imagine of God. Often the life we think we need to live is without material goods or natural enjoyments.
We need to strive to do everything we can to follow God's way in our lives, and the path to being close to God is actually not about misery and suffering.
1. One reason going to heaven is actually easy is because heaven is what God has created us for.
One of the most important things that you can do is to keep reminding yourself that God loves you. And loves you so much that God wants you to be happy.
Some religions teach that only a set number of people are predestined to heaven and another set predestined to hell. Actually all people are predestined to heaven. This doesn’t mean we will all end up there because we have freedom, free will, so we could and are able to choose hell.
Remember that every moment of every day, the Lord’s goal is for us to go to heaven. This is really important because we can sometimes live as if we need to convince God to love us. God is not angrily looking down on us and waiting for us to make a mistake or for us to give him an excuse to send you to hell, as if that is what he wants. The reality is that God is constantly flowing into your being with love and truth to help you to live a good and heavenly life.
We are the ones that turn and twist this heavenly goodness into its opposite when we block out God by focusing on self centered wants, desires and power. We can go through times in our lives acting as if we are salmon fighting upstream to get to heaven, when the exact opposite is true. The current in the stream of life of the Lord’s love is always wanting to lead us towards heaven.
An old man, Herman, was driving down the freeway, when his cell phone rang. Answering, he heard his wife's voice urgently warning him, "Herman, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on Highway 401. Please be careful!" "Darn!," said Herman, "It's not just one car. It's hundreds of them!"
2. We are supposed to live an enjoyable life.
People believe that we have to give up material things and worldly pleasures in order to go to heaven. Sometimes people really do have this concept that a joyless and austere life is the way to heaven.
Everything that God created, God created for us to enjoy. If we live a life that deprives ourselves of the world, then we are closing ourselves off from heavenly joy.
We just need to keep pleasures in their proper place as we go about our daily lives. We should not let anything become more important to us than loving God's ways, loving and helping others and focusing on spiritual things. We don’t need to reject this world, we just need to keep all that the world has to offer in its proper place below our love for God and each other.
3. God’s will helps us and leads us through all our spiritual temptations and in fact makes them as easy as possible to conquer, because God is always with us ready and ready to fight for us.
Life is difficult, but It is easy to resist any temptation in our life if we do it right away; if we let go of the temptation before it becomes a habit or ingrained within us. If we don’t do this right away than it becomes harder and harder to resist along the way.
H&H 533 That it is not so difficult to live the life of heaven as some believe can now be seen from this, that when any thing presents itself to a man that he knows to be dishonest and unjust, but to which his mind is borne, it is simply necessary for him to think that it ought not to be done because it is opposed to the Divine precepts. If a man accustoms himself so to think, and from so doing establishes a habit of so thinking, he is gradually conjoined to heaven; … This is meant by the Lord's words, My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matt. xi. 30). But it must be understood that the difficulty of so thinking and of resisting evils increases so far as man from his will does evils, for in the same measure he becomes accustomed to them until he no longer sees them, and at length loves them and from the delight of his love excuses them, and confirms them by every kind of fallacy, and declares them to he allowable and good. This is the fate of those who in early youth plunge into evils without restraint, and also reject Divine things from the heart.
The more something is ingrained in us, the more painful the struggle will be to see it, to let it go, and to let God transform it. But the good news is that God is always with us ready to fight for us, we just have to be willing.
God tells us to rejoice and be glad. Let us remember how joyful life is when we follow God's leading. Heaven is what we are created for. We are expected to go to heaven. It is easier than we think to go to and to be in heaven!
Extinguish your candle
Close the Bible
Go forth; trusting in God's love.