In the opening line of David Crowder’s “A Collision” album we hear the line, “Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.” I usually always thought this was simply about the passage from life to death and the anxiety that it holds, but I think there might be a little more substance to this simple line. So often in the Christian evangelical tradition we have been promised that arriving in heaven is as easy as saying a magical one line statement, but does this really sync up with what Jesus has called us to in order to enter into His Kingdom?
Luke 9:23-24 reads this way, “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” I know for many of those who claim to be Christian it was as simple as a statement of belief and then nothing else changed…but I got my ticket stamped for heaven. The problem lies in what we mean when we say we believe in something. I believe in the Tennessee Volunteers football team, but I change the channel when they start losing. But to say that one believes in and follows Christ has to require a little something more than withering devotion. The phrase that he uses is that they must take up their cross daily and last time I checked, taking up your cross usually results in death. So let’s play out a little logic here. If we believe we are saved for heaven by following Christ then we not only are going to eventually kick the bucket with our mortal bodies, but we have to die daily as well.
The problem is nobody likes to die…either way. Death contains uncertainty. Yeah there is faith and all that in the hereafter, but what about the now. You mean I have to give up my life, my plans, my dreams daily in order to encounter who knows what for the sake of Christ. Um, yeah. We are called to lose our life everyday and some day that could even result in losing your life (wouldn’t that be something). I remember once reading something by Bob Benson (and unfortunately I am not going to be able to properly cite this) about our passing remarks to loved ones. So often we say “take care” and leave it at that. But he challenged us to say “take risks” instead. After all, if we are calling people to die that is a pretty reckless invitation. But maybe that is what it takes to get to heaven. Maybe that is what it takes to bring heaven to earth.
I wish it were as easy as saying a simple line and then getting your ticket stamped. Maybe Grace is that scandalous. But I also know that Grace is not cheap. So may we become reckless in our abandonment of self and place ourselves in the great risk of following Christ daily. After all, “Everybody wants to go to heaven”, they just need some crazy guides to help them get there.