Summary: There are only two options available to us for getting eternal life. Find out what they are.
Every time a fancy car raced by the family minivan, the boy sitting in the back wondered: “What do I have to do to lay my hands on one of those beauties?” His sister sitting next to him, however, was more interested in the mansions they passed. Her hope was to live in such a place one day with servants attending her every need. What would they have to do to realize their dreams? One option would be to make lots of money. Then they could buy all the cars and homes they wanted. Another option would be to marry someone with lots of money.
Money, of course, can’t buy everything. It can’t get you eternal life in heaven, for example, the one thing that we should all want to lay our hands on considering the alternative is spending an eternity in hell. Yes, heaven and hell are real places, as real as the exclusive and all-inclusive Sandals resort in the Bahamas, and as real as the World War II concentration camp in Auschwitz, Poland. Only heaven is better than a five-star resort and hell worse than Auschwitz. So what must I do to get into heaven and stay out of hell? There are two options. Let’s find out what those options are.
If I want to stay at the Sandals resort in the Bahamas, I’m not going ask you how much it costs. I’ll check the resort’s website for accurate prices. Likewise if I want to know what it takes to get eternal life in heaven, I need to ask someone who comes from heaven. That person of course is Jesus. Thankfully someone once asked Jesus this very question of how to get eternal life. Listen to the exchange: “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:25-28).
According to Jesus, one option for obtaining eternal life is by loving God and our neighbor. It sounds so simple doesn’t it – the way dribbling a soccer ball looks simple until you try it for the first time and can only manage a few kicks before the ball skips away from you. Likewise loving God and loving our neighbor is not easy, as Jesus makes clear through the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
In this parable a certain man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked, beaten, stripped and left for dead. Thankfully help came in the person of a priest who happened to be travelling the same road. But the only effort the priest made when he neared the beaten man was to cross over to the other side of the road and continue on his way! Likewise a Levite, a temple worker whom we might compare to a Church Council member, also came upon the man. But he too passed on the other side without offering assistance. These men had not robbed and beaten the poor man, but they might as well have by refusing to offer help.