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Is Heaven a Bribe?

November 10, 2011

Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God,” and “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:8 and 12).

Some aren’t sure how they feel about this. They ask, “Isn’t this talk of a reward in heaven mercenary?” This past week in our “Christianity and World Religions” Study, we looked at Islam. One of the quotes was of a prayer attributed to the eighth century Sufi mystic Rabi‘ah: “O Lord, if I worship Thee from fear of hell, burn me therein. And if I worship Thee in hope of paradise exclude me from it. But if I worship Thee for Thine own sake, then withhold not from me Thy eternal beauty.” I think we can all understand what she is saying.

But C. S. Lewis wrote: “We are afraid that Heaven is a bribe, and that if we make it our goal we shall no longer be disinterested. It is not so. Heaven offers nothing that a mercenary soul can desire. It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.”

To be for eternity with someone you don’t love, don’t want to be with, would NOT be heaven!

(from November 6 sermon)

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