Which Path to Heaven
It was late and John was turning his computer off for the evening when he noticed an email from his friend, Chris, pop up.
After serving two assignments in Afghanistan, Chris now works as a highly sought after contract undercover agent for the CIA, DEA and FBI. He is a delightful person but, probably because of his career, is skeptical of and analyzes everything, including his religious beliefs. Chris seldom attends a church service and, just today at lunch, John had shared with him the peace and love that can come from accepting Christ as one’s personal savior.
“Then why don’t Christians show that love and peace in what they say and do instead of being such holier than thou bigots?” Chris had replied. John countered “It may seem like bigotry to you, but we do it because we want you and everybody else to know the love of God and to be able to spend all eternity with Him. Don’t you want to go to heaven when you die?”
Chris suddenly looked at his watch, jumped up and said, “Rats, gotta go. I am late for my appointment” and then, in half jest, added as he grabbed his rain coat and headed towards the door “Not sure that I want to spend eternity with a bunch of bigots. That might be worse than hell.”
When John got back to his office he followed up with an email to Chris telling him how much he had enjoyed their lunch, ending with “I would love to continue our discussions.”
Chris had now responded and John was anxious to see what he had to say.
Thanks for your email and for lunch today. I would also like to continue our discussions. I have to go out of town tomorrow morning on an emergency assignment, but should return by late Sunday evening. Mondays are the days that I do volunteer work down at the Veterans home. So how about lunch next Tuesday? Call me tomorrow morning.
As you can tell from our conversations, earlier today, however, I have a really hard time coming to terms with all the religious bigotry. I have an even harder time believing that God condones such bigotry in His name. I went to your church last Sunday and it was more of the same. You will see my letter to the editor in Sunday’s paper.
It’s always more of the same. A few years ago, I met a family and became very good friends with them. The wife was Jewish and the husband—ole South Carolina Baptist and he was very active with the church. She converted to Baptist and raised their two children as Baptists. One day I found her crying. I asked, “why are you crying?” She said the Pastor of her church pulled her aside and flatly told her that her parents were going to hell because they were Jewish and there was no way she would be joined with them in heaven after their deaths. She was horrified. The Pastor told her the only way her parents would go to heaven was if they renounced their Jewish faith and became Christians. The husband, after hearing this, sided with the Pastor and added more pressure on her to, in turn, put more pressure on her parents. Of course, her parents were not going to convert.
Well, as you know, I have my own personal issues with organized religion and seeing her so upset and now almost estranged from her parents, I really wanted to meet this pastor. So I called and made an appointment with him telling him I was troubled and needed faith. I didn't say off the bat what was troubling me. So I went to the meeting trying to keep my temper in check to see where he was really coming from. He flat out tells me that anyone who is not a Christian is going to hell. Plain and simple. So, I gave him a scenario. "Hey I was in Afghan and my best friend was killed when he saw that I was about to step on a land mine and shoved me to the side. He tripped and fell on the mine and it exploded. I am alive today only because my friend gave his life for me. He was Muslim. Soooo, what? He’s in hell?"
Well, how about all those babies and innocent children who were killed as collateral damage who didn't have a chance to even know who Jesus was. Are they in hell?
Well now I started to feel my head spin around and wanted to throw up. So, I laid one more on him.
I said, "a guy just rapes and kills my wife and I catch this guy in the street and beat the hell out of him. An ambulance shows up and this guy is muttering to the paramedics that he wants a Minister before he dies. This minister shows up and asks him if he accepts Christ and the bad guy says "yes". “So did this guy really go to heaven?" and the minister answers "yes". So I say, "my wife was just raped and killed and she was Jewish. Where did she go." And the minister says, "she would go to hell". So I shot the Minister.
Chris always did like to sneak in a “shock you” in his conversations to emphasize his point. Of course, he would not shoot the pastor. But, one thing was clear as a bell, he must have had a bad experience somewhere back in his earlier church life that turned him so bitter against organized religion. Winning him to Christ was going to be a real challenge. As John turned his computer screen off and headed to bed, he felt deep down, however, that that was exactly what God was calling him to do. Tomorrow, he would call Chris and confirm their lunch next Tuesday.