How to get promotion
If you had the choice, which laws would you want to see changed? Answers on a postcard…or maybe a postcard isn’t big enough?! There are some laws which are not going to change any time soon, or any time at all.
In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus told his disciples that he had not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfil them; that none of it would be repealed until the end of time. It was verse 20 that got me – you won’t get to heaven ‘unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees’. Now these guys were crazy about the law. Obeying it to the tiniest detail was their big obsession. There was even one group who didn’t go to the toilet on the Sabbath! What hope have I of doing better than them???
But I think the clue is in the way the commandments were summarised – Love God with everything you’ve got, and love your neighbour as yourself. It’s all about love. And that is not going to end. Ever. Jesus hadn’t come to change the law, he had come to change hearts. The Pharisees did the right things with the wrong hearts. For Jesus, getting the heart right was the most important part of obedience.
So, get your heart right, and heaven becomes a possibility. But then, Jesus talks about demotion and promotion. What is it that gets you the highest position in God’s eyes? Doing the right things with the right heart, and teaching others to do the same. The worst of all is teaching others that God’s laws don’t matter.
So here’s how it works as I see it.
Just doing right does not get you into heaven. That comes through getting a right heart – and you can only get that when you truly repent and seek forgiveness through Jesus. But then obeying the law is such a difficult thing, it can only be achieved when you invite Jesus to take residence in your life, to take control. Then ask the Holy Spirit to work in you. He gives power to live a victorious life, and gradually his fruit of love, joy, peace, goodness and so on, become your default position.
If you want to know how well you are doing, check out those around you. When your life is attractive enough to make others want to do the same, be sure you are in for promotion in God’s kingdom.