Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Food for thought - Is George Best in Heaven?

Well I'm back - sorry for the long absence - holidays called! A couple of weeks rest and relaxation with a new baby (as if).

Anyhow, hopefully things will get back to normality. While I was away George Best, legendary footballer passed away. A friend of mine has written a great piece on the funeral on his football blog. And here's my contribution to the local paper.

Is George Best in Heaven?
Eric Cantona certainly thinks he is. Cantona's image of Heaven, according to his own words, seems to be that of a continuous football match with George on the right wing and God on the left. Denis Law certainly seems to think that he and 'Bestie' will meet again in a better place.

It always strikes me as odd that we assume that everyone who dies goes to Heaven. And it strikes me as even odder that the Heaven that people go to is always focused around them and their interests. The footballer is playing football, the native American Indian is in the happy hunting ground, and the fisherman is by the side of some heavenly stream landing huge salmon to his heart's content.

Doesn't that tell us something about ourselves? It's all so 'me centred' - as if Heaven is there to cater to my every whim and my every delight. Heaven is seen as somewhere I can go, and I can be at peace, and I can have pleasure, and I can do what I want to do.

Surely if Heaven is God's home, then everything revolves around Him? Certainly that is the Bible's teaching. The Bible's favourite way of describing Heaven is not in terms of our pleasure but of our being with Jesus. Over and over again Jesus uses the phrase, "With me" to explain what Heaven will be like. The New Testament nowhere speaks of people going to Heaven when they die, instead believers go to be "with Christ", which Paul describes as being "better by far" (Philippians 1:23).

Perhaps the thought of spending eternity with Jesus doesn't excite you much. Well, that makes sense - if we don't enjoy his company here, we certainly won't enjoy it in Heaven. But if we have put our trust in him here, then we will delight in him forever in Heaven as he opens up to us all the pleasures of his home.

And if Heaven is God's home, then he has the right to say who gets in. And he says the only way in is through Jesus, who made that point himself when he said, "I am the Door, whoever enters through me will be saved" (John 10:9).

So if George Best is in Heaven it won't be because he was a great footballer, nor because Heaven is an inalienable right for everyone. The only way would be if he had put his trust in Jesus as his Saviour and Lord. Ultimately we can't answer the question because we don't know what he did, but a far more important question is, "Will I be in Heaven?"

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