Yesterday I attended a funeral and was aghast when the pastor used his time in the pulpit to tell us that we needed to pray the sinner’s prayer to accept Jesus as Savior, the one who died for my sins if we wanted to see our loved one again in heaven. It felt like the worst kind of manipulation—pray this or else.
Now I do believe there is power in making a commitment to Christ’s way in this life. By doing so, you give Christ’s Spirit permission to work in and through you bringing healing to a broken world. You become part of the God’s kingdom builders. You learn that, when you can’t, God can. And so much more.
In Diane Butler Bass’ book, Grounded, she argues that there was a time when Church was seen as a type of elevator where the ministers tell you how to push the right buttons to get to heaven. No longer.
World War II, Shady Hook, and 911 led us to ask the question, where was God in these tragedies? Spirit gave an unusual singular understanding—God was with those who suffered. God was not sitting on a throne far above the earth’s struggles but was in the very midst of them.
That same understanding influences us in good times. God can be found in the things of this earth—in the birds singing outside, good food shared around a table, and a lover’s kiss. God can be found in service—listening to lonely voice, praying for healing, and working for better policies.
Look for God here on earth, seek to be moved by Spirit, and let yourself be continually challenged to accept Christ’s way who calls you to forgive and to love as you have been forgiven and loved.
And, as you do, even if you don’t pray the sinner’s prayer, you will come to know the one who, when you draw your last breath on earth, walks you through heaven’s gates.
Love, Pastor Heather