Raise your hand for heaven…really?


So I’m laying in bed overcome with what I believe is righteous anger for about the last hour.   As I replay all of those times I’ve been sitting in a sanctuary and heard, “Now if everyone will bow their head and those that wish to have Jesus and go to heaven will raise their hands and recite this pledge (they usually say ‘this simple prayer,’ but pledge is much more honest), we will welcome you into God’s family and you may grab a bible on your way out.”  I WISH I COULD SCREAM LOUDER THAN CAP LOCKS!!!  I really can’t see Peter at Pentecost telling THE REAL CHURCH to raise their hands and sit quietly in their seats while they get their hell immunization.

Yesterday morning my preacher stood yelling “IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU!  OUR PURPOSE IS TO GLORIFY HIM!  STOP MAKING OUR LIVES ABOUT OUR COMFORTS AND START MAKING THEM ABOUT HIS GLORY!”  That shouldn’t be so newsworthy, but it is!  That is exactly what we do.

By his own account, Billy Graham said only approximately 5% of those professed salvations at his preaching were true converts.  Another 20% was added as local pastors followed up with those that came forward.  Wonderful, but what about the 75% that came forward and were still headed to hell and didn’t know it?  AND THOSE 100% ACTUALLY WALKED THE ISLE!!  So now in modern-day convenience and “me” religion we’ve decided to shorten the path and add numbers.  Did we do that so that those poor sinners that don’t want hell won’t damage their self-image by coming forth in front of the “body of Christ,” or was it so the “body of Christ” could keep their lunch plans?  Or maybe it was just simply to pad the numbers?  Take your pick, but none of them sound like the God I love.

Do I sound angry?  You dang right I’m angry!!  I serve a God that is powerful enough to move a sinner into sorrow and repentance and abandonment to their own self enough to walk anywhere to receive the beautiful gift of grace He offers.  And piling up in a heap of brokeness at His altar is only a start!  My bible teaches that we come to conversion thru sorrow and weeping, not joy and celebration.  I didn’t celebrate my sin when I realized it against the backdrop of the cross the first time and I don’t celebrate it now!  Walking with the Lord surely brings joy and celebration, but that first time of seeing my wretchedness in contrast to Christ’s sacrifice was sickening.  Yet we want to sell this “it’s-all-about-you,” “free-ticket-ride,” religion so that we can appeal to more?  Whatever!  I want to have a better night’s sleep after I leave an altar call.  I want to see brokeness, a change of life, a new creature and a REAL fellow christian.  The plan is simple, not easy!  The gift is free, not painless!  And the Lord is merciful, not your genie!  Jesus really died!  He was really beaten!  He really felt the pain of bearing our sins!  And He actually sacrificed every minute of His precious time here to teach someone about the Father or to save someone who was broken.  He went hungry to talk to a woman at a well, He lost sleep to pray, He didn’t have an American dream to chase and He bled so that we could live.  Does that sound like an emotional guy or does that sound like true committment?  Because I don’t think an emotional response to hope that someone will come in and clean up your life is what He is looking for.  I think He is looking for all-in committment and whatever-it-costs-me sacrifice.  Conversion only takes a second, but preparing the heart to be “good ground” takes time, sacrifice and the ability to see beyond ones self…and here I’m talking about the body of Christ not the lost person coming forward.  Once we’ve got our “free-ticket” we hide in our houses, our families and our busyness and forget about tilling the soil.  Sure we want to see people saved, as long as it doesn’t cost us anything.

We want our dinner in 15 or less, our coffee hot but don’t inconvenience us with having to blow on it, our TV with no commercials, to raise our kids with no sacrifice, and grab our ticket to heaven as we roll on to the next idol in our life.  It’s wrong, it’s sick and I pray that those that raised their hand because of an emotion and pledged to a preacher will be touched by conviction from the True God before they face Him holding nothing but a church document.   Lo, you preachers that spread that false doctrine!  For my bible teaches that you will stand in a higher account for those souls.  And lo us christians that fund and support that heresy!!  I’m not shouting to offend, I’m shouting to shake loose this idea that we can have it all and have it for no cost, with no committment, with no change.  I want someone to stand up and say, “No we won’t do those loose alter calls anymore.  And if the whole church has to stay here all day to “till the ground” or teach salvation to a lost soul then that’s what’s going to happen!  And furthermore if that’s not the kind of church you want, then you might need to go somewhere else.”

The conviction that God lays on a lost person to accept Him is heavy and won’t be escaped except by those that are very hardened.  So relax, sacrifice your time and stop trying to create a church like we now add friends to Facebook.  There is no “like” button that you can painlessly press from your comfy home on the bible that makes you a friend of Jesus.  Neither can you buffer yourself with a computer and call it ministry.  We’ve got to get uncomfortable sometimes, we’ve got to get OUT sometimes and we’ve got to care more about God than us ALL THE TIME.

That walk down the aisle is the first work of witness those truly converting will have…don’t steal it from them and don’t ease the work of God.  Instead reap the blessings that working for that God, thru His power and our weakness brings!  Surrender!  Don’t be afraid!  He is good.  He will enable.  It might hurt, but man it is worth it!  It might cost but dear God let me pay, for my cost is nothing in comparison to Yours!!  True conversions have fruit, sometimes painful fruit.  True conversions also have joy and free consciences when in close fellowship with the One that saved them.  True conversions will see the inside of heaven for eternity.  We all fight selfishness, but none of us believers want to watch a soul getting sent to hell because we were too busy, because we had lunch plans, or because it was easier to let them believe they conveniently received Christ from their seat than to take the time to till the soil or test the fruits.

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