February 6, 2024

Beside Still Waters: Shutting the door of Heaven

Therese Apel

Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” – Matthew 23:13-15

I love Matthew for bringing us the details he does. Please go read Matthew 23 and look at this entire interaction between Jesus and the pharisees. I always say the only people He spoke harshly to were the church leaders, and here we see it loud and clear.

But it also makes me think we should look at the modern day church.

I saw a meme today that said something to the effect of “It’s hard to convince people that a God they can’t see loves them, when a church they can see doesn’t seem to like them.” I think about a dear friend of mine who may have died an unbeliever because of long years of church hurt. Through the years we were friends, I always would tell him, “That’s not my Jesus. My Jesus doesn’t treat people like that.”

But nonetheless, he couldn’t believe that there was anything in the church for him, definitely nothing he wanted. He lived quite a life of things that took his mind off the hurt, but for most of that time (I’m hoping God got to him in the last circumstances he faced, which is a great possibility) he never knew the greatest Love in the Universe because some small-town Mississippi church people had gone out of their way to tell him how he was going to hell. By the end of that kind of treatment, a lot of people would just say, “If y’all are going to be in Heaven, I don’t want to be there.”

I believe he fits the category Jesus spoke of: “You shut the door of Heaven in people’s faces.”

When you get on Facebook spewing judgement and hate, are you shutting the door of Heaven in people’s faces? Really break it down to this: 1. Is anyone going to change their mind over any social media argument? 2. Is the ugly thing you’re vomiting out on social media based in the love of Christ according to 1 Corinthians 13? To be fair, we can’t just hope you’ve got it figured out without a spiritual backup. 3. Do you want this person’s soul on your conscience? Because what you’re doing is what Jesus is rebuking the pharisees for in Matthew 23.

Please go read this chapter. I can’t tell you how important it is that you understand where Jesus stood on that kind of behavior. Please go read it.

Someone’s eternity may rely on it.❤️

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