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Doing the "Hard" Things

On September 12, 1962, at Rice University Stadium in Houston, TX, President John F. Kennedy gave his famous “Moon Speech.”  In this historic discourse, the President announced, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”  This speech spurred national pride in our space program, and set a very difficult goal for NASA with what some undoubtedly saw as an impossible timetable. But the objective was not impossible- it was “hard,” but not unattainable.


Some also view an eternal home in heaven as unattainable. Jesus’ own disciples, at least at one point, seemed to share this perspective.  After Jesus had told them of the difficulty of “entering the kingdom of God,” they responded with what was evidently to them a question without an answer, “Then who can be saved?”  His response to their question is of paramount importance, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:24-26)  It is “impossible” to reach the eternal abode of heaven without God.  But with God, this seemingly unfeasible goal becomes possible- difficult, but not impossible.


Many today preach a “cheap” and “easy” salvation.  While such may be popular, it is not biblical. Consider again the words of Jesus Himself, this time from Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who enter by it.”  The narrowness of both the gate (initial point of entry) and the way (path to the objective) indicate a difficulty of reaching heaven in comparison to the wideness (and therefore ease) of both the gate and way which leads to eternal destruction. It is indeed interesting that the Savior follows these words immediately in the text of Matthew 7:15ff with a warning against “false prophets.”  Surely they are those who oppose and contradict His Words!


The next logical question from these things thus becomes: “What makes the way to heaven hard?”  Here are a few suggestions.


The way to heaven is “hard” because it requires faith.  Faith requires assurance and conviction regarding “things not seen,” Hebrews 11:1.  It is easy to walk (traverse the path of life) by sight, but much more difficult to “walk by faith,” 2Corinthians 5:7.  And yet, faith is the only way that is pleasing to God, “without faith it is impossible to please Him,” Hebrews 11:6.  


The way to heaven is “hard” because it requires obedience.  Faith is not just believing in Jesus- even “the demons also believe, and shudder,” James 2:19.  True, biblical, saving faith includes obedience, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself…You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone…so also faith without works is dead,” James 2:17,24,26.  Eternal salvation is not attained on the basis of what we know, feel, or experience, though all of these are included.  These are relatively easy- but faithfully and consistently “doing the right thing” is admittedly hard, James 4:17.  


The way to heaven is “hard” because it requires us to think, feel, and act like God.  Perhaps the clearest explanation of this principle can be found in Matthew 5:44-45, “But I (Jesus) say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you; in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…”  Did you get that?  If we want to be God’s children, we must love those who hate us, and do good to them that do evil to us.  Folks, such is not easy- it’s hard!  But it is also necessary to attain heaven.


These few suggestions have only “scratched the surface” of the topic.  But lest we become discouraged, and start to think heaven is unreachable, remember Matthew 19:26, “With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Do those things which allow you to be “with God” both now and forever!