We don’t have to step on each other to get to heaven. It’s an open invitation. We’re all invited. There is not limited seating. The offer to follow God to the banquet, the party, the place he says he is preparing for us is an unlimited party. The only ticket required is to say “yes.” To RSVP in the affirmative. To say, “Thank you, how wonderful, I accept.”
How we’ve taken an open invitation to a Heaven beyond our wildest dreams and turned into a competition deciding who gets to come and who gets to burn is amazing. The more we try to send others to hell, the more we’re sending ourselves there. When I try to alleviate my fears by convincing myself of my own holiness, thereby emphasizing someone else’s lack of holiness, I’m hurting us both.
I believe I understand why we do this. Dr. Brené Brown says that “Blame is a way to discharge blame and discomfort.” When we blame, it’s because we’re trying to rid some of our own discomfort. If I point out a fault in someone else, telling them why they aren’t going to get the thing I want, I’ve made myself feel better by convincing myself there is someone worse off than me. This tactic is a lie, of course. It doesn’t work. People who send others to hell with their words and actions aren’t preventing their own condemnation. Indeed, they’re hastening it. We need only say, “This is difficult for me to see, but I know God loves you, too, and there is a way out of your predicament; maybe I’m even supposed to help,” and I’ve saved us both. Or, at least, I’ve stepped out of God’s way.
Religion make many of us uncomfortable. I believe this is because so much of it has turned into blaming. But that’s not real religion. It’s fear. Real religion knows that the instruction to cast off fear is cited more times in the Bible than there are days in the year. True religion teaches us, in the words of Hillsong United, that “Fear is just a liar running out of breath.”
If Jesus’ modeling of honesty, acceptance, and forgiveness, as well as his death on the cross are a perfect sacrifice to outmaneuver our fear and our failures, why do we still have the fear? I believe it’s because we’re still fighting our oldest enemy: the temptation to be God. Can it really be true that I am not perfect, yet I am still worthy of being part of the human family? The unified body? Heaven? Yes. But just in case I’m not, I better be perfect. That temptation to perfect hurts us and hurts others.
We don’t have to step on each other to get to heaven. My neighbor doesn’t have to be worse than I am for me to get to heaven. I don’t have to point out others’ mistakes to be worthy. I don’t have to be better than someone else to be included. We’re supposed to help each other there.