By The Rev. Sherry Crompton
May 15, 2011
What would you ask if granted one wish? A million dollars? A billion dollars? A beautiful woman? A handsome man? Would you ask to be president of a large company? President of the United States? Another Bill Gates? Or would you ask for a life of leisure–fun in the sun? Or renewed health?
What would you ask if granted one wish? Your answer would reveal a great deal. It would tell you what you think is important. It would tell you what you believe in. It would tell you what you believe to be the true gate to an abundant life–the true gate to heaven.
Most of us think that we would be a whole lot happier if we were just rich and famous. Jim Carrey doesn’t think so — and he is rich and famous. He became rich and famous starring in movies such as “Ace Ventura” and “The Cable Guy.” Carrey knows how it feels to be rich and famous, because he’s been there and done that. He says:
I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of
so they can see that it’s not the answer.
Carrey is telling us that some of the things that seem so attractive don’t really keep their promises. They are false messiahs.
Many people claim to know what we really need. Many people claim to have the way to the abundant life. We are bombarded by advertising that tries to persuade us to purchase a particular product so that we might be loved, find happiness, solve problems, put ourselves on easy street, etc. ad infinitum.
Years ago we were reminded of the danger of following the wrong Messiah–or entering by the wrong gate. Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Nettles — also known as Bo and Peep — founded an organization that they called Heaven’s Gate. They convinced a number of people that they had found the gate to heaven. They told them that there was a Heavenly spacecraft positioned behind the Hale-Bopp Comet to take them to the next level. They persuaded cult members to abandon their “physical vehicles” — their physical bodies — so that they might graduate to the next level. They claimed that they had experienced the next level, but had come back to bring a harvest of earthlings with them to the next level. At their direction, 39 members of their cult committed suicide. These 39 people were the harvest.
It’s easy to dismiss Heaven’s Gate as a bizarre group that has nothing to do with the rest of us. However, the group demonstrated clearly the dangers of following false leaders and taking wrong paths. The leaders led their followers to their deaths.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters by me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
The thief comes only to steal and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
One has only to look at the lives of those who have followed Jesus to see that he was telling the truth. Christian discipleship is not always easy, but it is blessed. Every church has people who can testify to the power of Jesus Christ, who has given them life–abundant life.
Jesus says, “I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved…. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” When we examine that statement, we realize that it is true. Christians are not immune to problems, but people who devote their lives to Christ find a steadiness and strength that they could have found nowhere else.
There are false pathways. That just happens to be the truth. We are bombarded daily with messages that are spiritual at their core–messages that tell us where to find the answers to our deepest needs. They tell us where to find the gate to happiness–in this beer or that perfume — in the latest movie or the greatest mutual fund –in the sweepstakes or the lottery. But those are deceptive messages. They tell us to expect much, but they give little. They disappoint us, because they are not the gate. Jesus says, “I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved…. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” And that is true.
Robert Schuler tells a story of his childhood. He says, “When I was a little boy, I studied piano, and my mother was my teacher. When it came time for a recital, my mother made me go over the conclusion again and again. I had to get it down perfect! ‘Keep on practicing the conclusion, Bob. Learn those last measures!’ she used to say. ‘Look, Bob, you can make a mistake in the beginning; or you can make a mistake in the middle; the people will forget it-if you make the ending glorious!’ Make the ending glorious!
Schuller says: “I don’t know what kind of childhood you had. I don’t know what kind of life you had. I don’t know where you are now! But wherever you are now, Jesus is present. Take Him into your life now, and I can tell you the ending will be glorious!” (Robert Schuller, Life Changers)
Jesus says, “I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved…. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
The text of this sermon is the property of the author and may not be duplicated or used without permission.