Embarrassing Prayer Request

SBC has many new believers.  This sometimes causes certain laughable situations, but sometimes I experience an embarrassing moment.  On Sunday, during the time of dedication, I had a prayer request which put me at a loss.  It went like this, “My beloved grandmother passed away.  She did not receive Jesus, but please pray so that God will send her to a nice place.”  The Bible states that only people who received Jesus can go to heaven and the opportunity is given only during the time on Earth and no second chance will be given after the person passes away.  Therefore, while the prayer requester’s grief is understandable, it is not possible for me to pray as requested.

This person may think that God has a big ruler which He uses against people to decide whether they will go to heaven or hell.  Therefore, in his logic, if only we pray, God may change his mind about where they will be sent.  However, it is not that simple.

Of course, we cannot say that God’s decision is not involved.  Also, since there are so many phases in salvation, it is very difficult to say it in one word.  However, heaven or hell is not a place to go after life.  Starting from this world, it is a concept of relationship rather than a concept of place.  We need to understand that heaven or hell is the result of our lives and the outcome of our pursuits in life.

When I seek God and His grace and pursue a relationship with God and make efforts to reflect it in our relationship with neighbors, the condition where God’s compassion, love and forgiveness is 100% realized is heaven.  That is the state I will enter as my life is complete and I pass through the gates of death.  On the other hand, if I choose to be away from God and do not care for Him and live with arrogance, when my time is up, I will be in a state where there is no more presence of God and none of God’s love, compassion, grace or forgiveness exist.  The place is hell.

Therefore, we need to realize that once we leave this world, we will not have the opportunity again, and we need to do our best for our loved ones to meet God before their departure from this world.  However, we need to be careful not to say to anyone that ‘he went to hell.’, since we will never fully understand the relationship between a particular person and God.  If we do, we may be committing sin of arrogance.  Therefore, if he received Jesus, he will go to heaven and if not, he will go to hell, but we should simply say ‘It is not for us to know.  Only God knows.’, and nothing more.

This year is coming to a close.  The reason God allowed for us to have a beginning and ending of a year is to remind us to know that we will have an end.  As we remember this, we should look around one more time to invite VIPs so that they may be saved.  That is my sincere desire.

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