“You know what I think is over-rated? Bacon. Bacon is really over-rated.”
Nathan stared at his older brother. “Joel! Are you serious? Dude, bacon is not over-rated.”
Joel shook his head vigorously. “No,” he said emphatically. “Go buy a hamburger at any restaurant and they will charge you an extra $2 to put on one little piece of rubbery bacon and it doesn’t improve the taste at all. That’s why bacon is over-rated. It’s good, but definitely not everything people make it out to be.”
“I don’t think you understand the meaning of over-rated, Joel. Now cupcakes … that’s something that is over-rated. People act like cupcakes are a really big deal. It’s just a little cake! Nobody would make such a big of a deal over a piece of cake, and it’s essentially the same thing as a cupcake. Completely over-rated!”
Megan broke into the conversation. “What are you talking about?”
“Cake and cupcakes. Cake is an under-rated food. Cupcakes are over-rated.” Nathan seemed slightly annoyed at her question.
“CUPCAKES? Are we having cupcakes?!” Julia suddenly came to life over her bowl of cereal.
“No!” Joel and Nathan at practically the same time.
“Oh.” Julia was obviously disappointed.
“I still don’t get it,” said Megan, who was obviously confused.
“You wouldn’t.” Joel stated calmly. “You’re a girl.”
My boys love to rate things. Movies. Books. Sports mascots. Foods.
When they rate foods, it drives me insane. In fact, I have a rule that anyone rating food actually being served with anything less than a “delicious” rating will have to eat that food (and only that food) for the next three days. So far, it’s worked. My cooking is rated as only delicious. I’m happy with that.
If there is one thing in this life I believe is under-rated, it is the realities of heaven and hell. No one can give us first-hand information about it. There are no photographs or pictures. We have no way to visit until our own death. One place no one wants to go; the other most think they will get a back row seat based on their efforts at living a moral life.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” ~1 Corinthians 2:9
No doubt about it, heaven is for real. It’s not just real; it is unfathomable. Many descriptions of heaven can be found in the Bible, including the following:
~ a city wall made of jasper, a entire city of gold adorned with every sort of precious stone (sapphires, emeralds, and amethyst), gates of pearls, streets of gold, a river sparkling like crystal (Revelation 21-22)
~ no night, no death, no mourning or crying or pain of any sort (Revelation 21)
~ no hunger or thirst, no scorching heat, we will drink from springs of living water (Revelation 7)
~ there will be a wedding feast (Revelation 19)
But the Bible also tells us not everyone can enter heaven.
But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. ~Revelation 21:27
So what happens to those who are not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life?
They will spend eternity separated from God in a place we call hell. Just as real as heaven; just as unfathomable.
~ lake that burns with fire and sulfur (Revelation 21)
~it will be a place of eternal punishment, separated from God (2 Thessalonians 1)
~ there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13)
~ torment goes on forever, with no rest day or night (Revelation 14)
Hell is a terrible place to wind up. It’s a place where those who have not paid the price for living a less than holy life will be sentenced to stay for eternity.
You see, heaven is the home of God. He is so holy and pure that only holy and pure people can be there with Him. Can you imagine the grandeur of heaven from the descriptions above? Now imagine it filled with people who lie, steal, and cheat regularly? Even our good moments do not begin to compare with the goodness of God. The prophet Isaiah wrote that even our most righteous deeds are like filthy rags when compared to the holiness of God. (Isaiah 64:6).
God is merciful and loving. He does not want anyone to go to hell. And yet, sin, which is the breaking of God’s laws, must be punished. As a parent, I know that in order for my children to learn to behave, I must discipline them. Even in society, we recognize that lawbreakers must pay a penalty. It’s just and right.
God is a just and right judge. He gets the authority to be the judge because He is the Creator. In our society, we would call a judge corrupt if he let a convicted felon go free on the basis of previous moral acts. If God is a perfect judge, then He certainly cannot be corrupt. He must punish sinners, and all of us are convicts. (Who among us hasn’t told even just one lie? And, according to the Bible, if you are guilty of breaking one part of the law, then you are guilty of breaking the whole law.)
God made a way for our penalty to be paid. God humbled Himself to become a man, walk this earth and not commit a single sin. Not one wrong thought. Not one white lie. Not one curse word. Nothing. And then He died a convict’s death on the cross. He took our place. He cried, “It is finished!” for He had done what needed to be done to pay for the sin’s of all mankind.
All we have to do to spend eternity in heaven is allow Him the privilege of paying our penalty and, through His power, are able submit to living our lives under His authority.
U is for Under-Rated …
We may have under-rated views of the realities of heaven and hell,
but we can be assured of our place in eternity.