Terminal cancer is no joke. When we hear we have so little time left, what do we do? Re-calibrate? Re-orient? Get out our bucket list and try to live it up? It’s perfectly understandable, whatever we do when we face our fragile little selves for what we really are (Ga 6:3), feeling alone (Ps 102:7), afraid, uncertain. (He 10:31)
Truly, we’re all dying of a terminal condition: Life itself. But as long as death seems far away, not imminently close, we comfort ourselves however we can, asleep at the wheel.
Facing our mortality wakes us up, helping us realize what and who we are (Ja 4:14), what and who we have, or don’t have. (Ga 6:4-5) It’s clear we don’t take our stuff, our friends or family (1Co 6:29-31), or even our man-made religion (Mk 7:7); we leave it all behind. (1Ti 6:7) We will face God alone, and deal with Him one on one, for eternity. (Ro 14:11-12)
It isn’t so much a choice between Heaven and Hell, though that’s implied; it’s more about being a devoted lover of God, or His enemy: there’s no middle ground with Him. (Mt 12:33)
Think of it this way: no matter where we end up, it’s just going to be like each one of us as an individual is alone with God (2Co 5:8), as if no one else will be on our radar, distracting us from Him (Ps 27:4), part of our routine, conscious focus, except Him. (Ps 73:25)
What will that be like … if we love God? (1Co 8:3) or if we don’t? (16:22)
For sure, those in Heaven will be in community together, in a sense (He 12:22-23), as well as those in Hell, but as God unveils us into His immediate omnipresence (Jn 17:24), His infinitude will completely consume, occupy and overwhelm all our senses. (Re 20:11) From that moment on, out into eternity, we will see and experience God as All in All (1Co 15:58), drinking in the infinite majesty of Jehovah God. (Re 22:3-5)
If we love God, in that eternal moment, we’ll have all there is to have (Ro 8:17); and if we don’t love God, we’ll be forever face-to-face with the indignant fury of the Almighty (Re 6:16), Who repays all who hate Him to their face. (De 7:9-10)
We may think we don’t actually hate God, perhaps we’re just indifferent or lukewarm, but that’s all the same to Him; He might even detest indifference more intensely. (Re 3:15-16) God cannot be trifled with (Ga 6:7); He commands us to love Him with all our being; mind, heart, soul and strength. (Mk 12:30) Nothing less is acceptable.
False religion is how we deceive ourselves into thinking God will accept us on our merits, because we belong to a special club and follow certain rituals, and the more truth our religion contains the more deceptive it can be. (2Co 11:13-15) Any religion offering us hope by adhering to it is a counterfeit; religion can’t bring us to God. Shedding all formal religion, leaving only the divine relationship, may help us see whether we’re relying on emptiness here.
If we’re honest with ourselves (1Co 3:18), we can tell what and who we truly love. Is it truth? (2Th 2:10) Is it God? Above everything and everyone else? (Jn 12:25) Is this reflected in our lives, day to day? (Pr 20:11) Are we obeying Him the best we know how, submitting our entire lives to Him? (Jn 14:23)
There’s only one Way to God: the Person of Jesus Christ. (Jn 14:6) He is all we need, but to have Him we must give up everything else (Mt 13:44-46); He tolerates no rivals in our affections or loyalties. (Lk 14:26)
If me and Christ forever sounds like Heaven (Ps 84:4), we’re likely one of the chosen few to find the narrow gate and we’re well on our way (Mt 7:14); otherwise, we’re likely still on the broad road with the mass of Mankind, the walking dead (Ep 2:1), headed to eternal death and destruction. (Mt 7:13) Look for that tiny little gate, find it and strive to enter (Lk 13:24); it’s only One Person wide, and His name is Yeshua: Jesus.