Sun, 19 May 2019
Harvard is the oldest and, arguably, the most prestigious university in America. Not surprisingly, the competition for admission is stiff. Only about 5% of those who apply are actually accepted. Listen to these academic credentials for incoming freshmen:
To get into Harvard, you have to be nearly perfect academically. Truth is, it is hard to get into Harvard.
Let me pivot and ask you: “Is it hard to get into heaven?” Let me offer an answer: No, it is not hard; it is impossible--based on your own qualifications (and mark those final words well).
Listen to Jesus give the admission guidelines for heaven: “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). Were that standard not sufficiently high, he adds: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). What Jesus is saying is that you don’t have to be nearly perfect; you have to be perfect.
Perhaps you’ve been tempted to take solace in the hope that God might grade us on a curve. We just have to be better than the scoundrel scribes and Pharisees. Piece of cake, right? Not so fast.
There’s no curve in God’s grading scale. The passing grade is 4.0. 36. 1260. Perfection.
If this prompts a rising sense of alarm in you, good. The Sermon on the Mount, with its remarkably high moral demands, is not primarily given to tell us how we ought to live (though it does that). It is instead given chiefly to awaken us to the fact that we are dead in our trespasses and sins and that we don’t (and can’t) measure up left to ourselves.
It is given, first, to drive us to our knees in brokenness for our shortcomings, and, second, to lift our eyes heavenward in hope of mercy.
Join us this Sunday as we continue our walk through the Sermon on the Mount in our series called, “Culture Flip.”
“How to Get in to Heaven”