Summary: This sermon is about the mistaken idea of being good and obeying the rules leading to heaven.
The BIG Misconception
It happened only this past week. A co-worker came to me with all kinds of questions about our church. He asked what times the services were and what types of music we played. He wanted to know about Sunday school for his two young daughters and whether or not I thought his family would be accepted by the people here.
Then he told me about his best friend when he had been growing up. You see, his best friend from the time he was in kindergarten to the time he graduated from high school was the son of a preacher. So every Sunday he attended church with his friend. He accepted Jesus as his savior and was baptized when he was eleven or twelve. When high school came though every Sunday changed to once or twice a month. By the time he graduated, despite still being best friends with the preacher’s son, he wasn’t going to church at all.
“I want my daughters to know there is a God,” he told me.
I thought what a courageous father. What an awesome step toward God.
Then he dropped a bomb. What he said shocked me to a point that I didn’t have an answer. I didn’t know what to tell him.
He said, “I’ve got some things I need to work on first though. I’ve got problems. I need to get my life straightened out first. Until I do God wouldn’t want me to be there. I wouldn’t be accepted.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone tell me this. In fact, some of you have heard this very same thing before.
This is the biggest misconception there is to Christianity today!
Honestly, I think it has two parts. Here they are.
Misconception #1: If I behave right God will accept me.
Let me just take a minute to explain this one. There are people in this world that believe that if they obey the rules, if they do what God has told them to do, if they dress the right way, if they sing the right kind of songs, if they do the right kind of work, God is going to accept them. That’s the only way they’re getting to heaven. You have to obey the rules. That’s it. Otherwise God doesn’t care about you one way or another.
Misconception #2 goes right along with the first one. Here it is.
Misconception #2: The better I behave the more God will hear me and love me.
You know what I mean?
These people get the idea in their heads that God is sitting up in heaven just listening to prayers. One reaches his ears and he starts checking the list. Some of you are wondering what list. The LIST, with a capital L, a capital I, a capital S, and a capital T. You know, the one that tells God whether you’re doing everything just the right way or not.
Now when God finds the name on that list, he knows if he can listen. “Yep. Today I can hear you. If you would have dome to me a month ago, no deal. But you’ve been doing the right things lately.”
Now don’t you dare laugh, because there are an awful lot of people who this just like that. Some of them may be sitting in this very room today.
So where in the world did this idea come from? What makes us think that the better we act the more acceptable we are to God? What actually makes a person believe that we have to everything a certain way or we can’t make it?
You see, the problem is that this misconception is in no way unique to Christianity. The Muslims believe this. If I behave in certain ways, if I obey the rules, I will be more acceptable to Allah. The Hindus believe this idea too. If I behave in certain ways I will no longer go through reincarnation. I will become a part of the Brahman, that’s the Hindu version of god.
Now I’ve been putting a lot of thought into this question and I honestly believe there is nothing that keeps people away from God more than this idea. There isn’t one thing that keeps people from walking through the door of church than the belief that we have to live according to God’s rules before he will love us.
In fact I’ve been talking to people recently about this idea. Some of you may even be experiencing this very thought pattern in your own life right now. So you want to know what I discovered?
When I ask people, non-Christians, if they think they’re going to heaven I usually get the same response. They will often tell me, “Yes, I am.”