Here are some simple tips on how to get to heaven.
First, let me say that this is the most important consideration that any person can make. This has to do with your eternal destination. So this is no trivial matter.
What I want to do with these tips is help you find that magical sweet spot of knowing just how much you have to do to get to heaven without making too much effort or missing out on some of what this earthly life has to offer. Because, let’s face it, life has a lot to offer here now, and we all want to maximize that while not missing out on eternity in heaven in the future. I think of it a lot like bargaining in business. You want to close the deal without paying too much and leaving a lot of cash on the table that you didn’t have to offer. This just makes good business sense. And if our religion doesn’t make good sense, then, well, why would anyone want to go that way? Now here I’m providing what you’ve always wanted to know – the minimum set of requirements for getting into heaven. But make no mistake, you don’t want to mess up and end up in that other nasty place with fire and torment and awfulness.
Here are my simple tips on how to get to heaven with the least effort.
1. Don’t fret about being perfect. Leave that up to the religious fanatics who go way overboard. They leave so much religious collateral on the table it’s insane. We all know that no one is perfect, except for the perfect one, so this should not even be considered at all. We all have our flaws and weaknesses, so don’t worry about them. Let’s get this one off the table from the start.
2. Make yourself look good. This goes way beyond just not robbing banks and killing people. You have to actually do something for the benefit of mankind. Even something small, like serving food to homeless people at Thanksgiving, will count to your credit. If you ever actually do that, make sure you get a photo. Also you need to consider how much you want to attend church. It shouldn’t be ignored altogether because this doesn’t look too good. So at least you should show up for Christmas and Easter. But if that cramps your style, then at least pick one of those to attend. I’d suggest Christmas because it’s a lot more fun to see little children dressed as angels and singing about Jesus being born than hearing about cruel crosses and death and dismal tombs. Remember, the main thing here is to make yourself look good, because if you don’t even look good to others, how do you think you are going to look to God on that dreadful judgement day?
3. Don’t spend too much time reading the Bible. This tip will lead you away from a lot of confusion. We all know the Bible is way too difficult for normal people to understand. So leave it to the professionals. Have you ever noticed that there are so many conflicting claims about religious things, and yet all the various people point to the same Bible to prove their claims? How can this be? I think it has to do with plain ole normal folks who read the Bible and come up with different stuff and then claim they’ve found the truth because the Bible says so. So then how come they don’t all agree? Why can’t they all get along together? The answers to these kind of questions will have to wait until we pass through the pearly gates. So for now, just take this tip and take the safest route by not even making any claims about things based on the Bible. Otherwise, it will just lead to conflicts and confusion. And God knows, there’s enough of that around already.
4. Temptations. Temptations come to everyone. Even Jesus was tempted. So don’t be too concerned about having temptations. They are just a natural part of life. I advise you not to agonize over them, like some religious fanatics, but to just do your best and go with the flow. Enough said?
5. Prayer – how to treat this? My advice is to find a good one and stick with it. Keep it simple, so you can remember it, and repeat it to yourself whenever you can think of it. It doesn’t matter too much what it is, except that it ought to sound slightly religious, or at least self encouraging. It is the repeating of it that counts. More is better. But, of course, like all things, moderation is always best, because you don’t want the prayer to interfere with your work or other important things you do. Your mind has more important things to attend to than this simple repetitive prayer. I hesitate to make suggestions here, because you should come up with your own version, but a phrase like “I can do it” or “I am good” or “I am powerful” are very good self-affirming statements to consider. Call them prayer mantras. These will give you a boost to help you get through a tough day. And if anyone ever asks you about prayer, you can proudly proclaim, “I pray every day!” They will be impressed!
6. A plan that some people have is one I do not recommend. It goes like this: they will wait until their deathbed to get right with God. On the surface, this seems logical. Why spend your whole life worrying and fussing about getting through a door at the end of life, when you can just wait until you’re there and then do what it takes to get in? Then you have your whole life of freedom to live without restraints and missing out on anything this earthly life has to offer. We all know this works, because the first person that got to heaven is the thief on the cross beside Jesus. Remember Jesus told him right before he died, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” He just barely made it, but he made it! So it can happen. But, and this is a really big BUT, what if you get killed in an instant in some freak accident? Like those poor souls driving on the San Francisco freeway when it collapsed in an earthquake. The ground shakes, you blink, and bam! you’re dead! I don’t think they would have had even a split second to confess their sins and accept Jesus. Believe me, it’s not pleasant to think about, but that CAN happen. And if it does, how are you going to have any time to say you’re sorry for all your sins? So this is taking a big risk that I don’t recommend. My advice is to take these tips now, but don’t go overboard, and live as best you can to keep yourself out of hell. Sure, it puts a bit of a damper on life, but just consider it like an insurance policy. That should help you feel better about losing out on a few things in life.
7. No treatment on getting into heaven would be complete without this last consideration. What about the possibility that there might not actually be a literal hell with all that fire and anguish and torment? O, I know, it’s in the Bible alright. But what if this was just made up to put fear in us to make us want to do good? Come on, haven’t you wondered that yourself? So here is how you should deal with this. Since we really don’t know for sure, and can’t know for sure, then let’s play a “What if…” game. What if it’s not true – there really is no hell. Then we have nothing to fear in the afterlife or this one. Having nothing to fear – now that’s what I would call some really good news. The big question then would be how we should live with no fear of hell. At first thought, you might assume that we are all free to live life totally as we please with no inhibitions, completely free. But this would be a huge mistake because there seems to be a natural law of consequences for our actions. No matter what we think about hell, living our life is like sowing seeds. The harvest we get will be from the seeds we plant and cultivate. For example, when an old man who can’t get out anymore complains that no one comes to visit him yet he forgets that he never visited an old shut-in when he could get around. It’s like he expects a harvest from seeds he didn’t sow. Another example: if I do not live with integrity and keep my promises, then others will eventually notice and not trust me which will make my life more difficult. OK, so without a hell to fear still does not mean we can all live completely without restraints.
There are plenty of folks who I know are betting on there not being any hell. Because if there really is a hell, that’s where they are going, for sure. And if there is a heaven, there’s a few folks we can easily think of who are going to be there for sure, like Mother Teressa, and Billy Graham. The rest of us, well, the jury is still out on us. There are some folks I know who are as mean as a snake, and they say they are going to heaven. Now, I ask you, how does that work? It kinda makes me question the whole thing; doesn’t it you? Someone else will have to explain this one to you, it’s beyond me. Anyway, betting on no hell seems far too risky if the bet is wrong. So I recommend to play it safe on this one.
8. There is one more question that you have probably wondered about that I will not treat: What if there is no heaven? What if this life is all there is? If there were no reward, would that remove all incentive for doing good? What if doing right is it’s own reward? In spite of many Bible promises of heaven and a few compelling near-death stories, I leave this one to you, dear seeker.
In conclusion, all that matters on that judgement day, when your life is up there on those scales of God, you better have it tip over to the heaven side instead of the other way. It doesn’t have to slam toward heaven with a heavy thud for you to get your pass through the pearly gate. That’s the case where you’ve wasted too much religious collateral and went way overboard and didn’t experience all that life on earth had to offer. In the operation of a balancing scale, even the slightest difference one way or the other will cause it to tip that way. So being just good enough is all you need to let you slide on into heaven with the saints of God.
The only thing these tips do not cover, and I leave this to your imagination, is once you get your soul safely in heaven, what if you end up right next to someone who did you wrong? Or that you wronged? And beyond that, what are you going to do up there for the rest of eternity?
Finally, dear reader, I confess I have not been totally honest with you. If none of this seemed to miss the mark or offended you, then let me offend you now by suggesting that your view of Christianity is not in line with the message of Jesus as found in the gospels and especially his sermon on the mount, Matthew chapters 5-7. Read them yourself and see!