I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest. — John 10:10
During college years I was part of a strongly evangelical group on campus. We studied strategies on how to help save other students from all their sinning. One strategy suggested that we build rapport with the target (oops, I mean other student) with conversations about classes, sports, etc. Then, at the right time, you ask, “If you were to die today, would you go to heaven?”
I never did this. There was simply no “right time” to slip that into a conversation without that being a conversation stopper itself. But it does pull back the curtain a bit and reveals the assumption behind what motivated those young evangelicals:
Being a Christian saves you from hell.
This misses the point of why Jesus came in the first place. Sure, eternal life is of ultimate importance, but it’s an outcome of following him, and not the purpose in following him. A better way of expressing the point of Christianity is:
Jesus offers you life now before you die.
He paints a picture of God as a first and foremost a parent, not a judge capable of springing a trapdoor into hell. Trust the Son to show you this Father. Love enemies as well as friends. Forgive, seven times seventy. Connect with the least-last-lost. Stand up for justice. Be a peacemaker. Break down barriers between people, and expand your field of vision by what you learn from them. Enjoy relationships with amazing people in the community of faith. Empty yourself for others and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Be grateful for something or someone new, every day.
We do Jesus a grave disservice if we see him primarily as a get-out-of-hell-through-faith card. He came proclaiming the kingdom of God breaking loose on earth. It is our privilege to live like it. Today.