by Bob Dasal
I recently ran across a Jewish parable that was a picture of heaven. Two things about the story stood out to me. First, Jewish folks don't usually speculate about heaven, and secondly the nature of the story's content illustrates a powerful point. Read it and I think you'll understand why it caught my attention.
"I once dreamed I was given a tour of both heaven and hell. In both cases, I entered into a very elaborately adorned dinning room, with the food immaculately set up. Then the dinner guests filed in and sat down at their seats. It was at this point that I realized something was very different about these people: The arms of each seemed to be permanently locked at the elbows. Then the eating commenced—and I quickly saw a distinct difference between the residents of heaven and the residents of hell. One room stayed immaculately clean the whole meal through, while the other became a total mess. When I took a closer look to discern the reason for the difference, I saw that the inhabitants of the clean room were serving each other, while those in the messy room were continually trying to feed themselves, even though they never actually succeeded in getting a single morsel into their mouths. I didn't need to ask which room represented heaven, for that was quite obvious. By helping one another they helped themselves."
The message is clear—to serve God and others is life's highest calling and our most important responsibility. Where I differ with the Jewish parable is that I believe it begins with a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. From that moment on my heart's desire should be to serve God by helping others to know Him and to minister to their needs. It's so important because the results will have eternal consequences.
It's sad but true that many people, including a majority of church members, just don't get it. They believe living life is all about them. What's in it for me is their focus and it robs them of the joy that comes from putting the Lord and others before self.
Paul wrote the Roman Christians and said, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" [Rom. 12:1-2]. A life of purpose begins with a genuine relationship with God.
And a life rightly related to God will exhibit itself by the way it treats others. Paul said, "[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality" [Rom. 12:10-13]. God intends for the Christian life to be lived in practical terms. To claim to be a Christian, but not put into practice these verses puts a huge question mark on whether one is just a professor or a possessor of life in Christ.
James said, "Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." Jesus said, "Love one another as I have loved you."