Thursday, November 12, 2009
Green Fees in Heaven
An 85 year old couple, having been married almost 60 years, die in a car crash. They had been in good health the last ten years, mainly due to the wife's interest in health food.
When they reached the pearly gates, St. Peter took them to their mansion, which was decked out with a beautiful kitchen and master bath suite with Jacuzzi. As they "oohed and aahed", the old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost.
"It's free," Peter replied, Remember, this is Heaven."
Next they went out back to see the championship golf course the home backed up to. They would have golfing privileges every day, and each week the course changed to a new one representing the great golf courses on Earth. The old man asked, "What are the green fees?"
"This is heaven," St. Peter replied. "You play for free."
Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch with the cuisine's of the world laid out. "How much to eat?" asked the old man.
"Don't you understand yet?" St. Peter asked. "This is heaven. It's free!"
"Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods?" the old man asked timidly.
"That's the best part...you can eat as much as you like of whatever you like and you never get fat and you never get sick. This is Heaven."
The old man looked at his wife and said, "You and your stupid bran muffins. I could have been here ten years ago!
(Thanks for the joke from http://www.homilies.net/joke-links.asp)
This weeks reading sure does not sound like something to joke about.
Mark 13: 24 - 32 describes a terrible scene of the ending of the world.
24 "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,
25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26 And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
Wow! We sure like the part about the Son of man returning but this is after that tribulation then we get to see the sun darkened, the moon lose its light and the stars falling from heaven?
So we get to suffer through the tribulation (which is no picnic) then for those of us that survive we get to see these terrifying events? Woo-Hoo! Party on - let me sign up for some of that right now! Boy oh boy, can Christians party or what?!
Seriously, sometimes being faithful sure doesn't sound fair does it? We get made fun of by the media and the party-types and this is our reward?
Of course the answer is no. Our reward is that we get to go to heaven. The whole point of this passage is that the Son of man will return. And when he returns then he will separate the good from the evil, the sheep from the goats. The just will receive their reward and the evil their punishment. Our God is a just God and there will be justice when he returns.
Any suffering that we have in this world is temporary. Our salvation is eternal.
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" Matthew 5: 1-2, 10
So if you think this passage is bad, then can you imagine what is in store for those who are separated to be sent to hell, to be tormented day and night in unquenchable fire? Believe me - you don't want to be in that crowd.
And I will tell you something else. You don't want to wait till the end of the world to be in the right crowd because you miss too much.
You want to be in the company of Christ filled people. I have been blessed with having friends who genuinely try to walk in the footsteps of Christ and it's great. These are the kind of people that genuinely care about you and your family. The kind of folks that you can have deep, meaningful discussions about what is going on in your life and the challenges that you are facing and know that they will encourage you to do the right thing. The kind of people that you can share a good laugh with and a good cry. Spending an afternoon with these truly good people is worth more than spending a week with people who just want to go clubbing and bar crawling. It is the closest thing that you are going to get at a glimpse of heaven that you are going to get here on earth.
So what about the rest of the passage? Certainly there is a lot of talk about end times and that we may be in the tribulation right now. There has been lots of specials and even a movie that says the end of the world will be in 2012.
Let's look at it.
29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.
30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place.
31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32 "But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
So, what does that tell us? Well, it tells us that it is certainly going to get worse before it gets better.
As for 2012, well if the angels in heaven and the Son does not know the day or hour of Judgment Day but only the Father then it's a pretty safe bet that Hollywood does not have the inside scoop on that date either. They might be right but that would be a coincidence.
And so what if it is true? Let's say that December 12, 2012 (12/12/12) is judgment day, so what? That's just more reason to get right with God now.
Don't get me wrong - I am no nut and I am not looking forward to the tribulation and all the suffering that goes with it but I say you need to keep your eyes on the prize. Keep focused on the end goal and that will help you overcome all the little distractions along the way like the sun and moon not giving light and the stars falling out of the sky - you know, that small stuff they tell you not to sweat.
It is going to be all worth it in the end. I used to tell my friends, "You can't get to paradise if you don't die first." Yes, I am quite the comforter. But it's true.
Jesus' death and rising means that he defeated death for all of us. We don't need to fear it. How many of us remember the trauma of our own birth? We don't. Temporal suffering on this world means nothing when you are looking at an eternity of heaven.
I am looking forward to seeing you on the golf course in Heaven. I am terrible at golf but I am looking forward to getting better and I hear the green fees are great!