A few days ago as I was walking through the park I saw a teenage guy and girl sitting on the merry-go-round.
“Hey, here’s a million dollars for you guys,” I said, handing them two million dollar bill tracts.“There’s a ‘million dollar question’ on the back,” I explained. “It’s ‘Will you go to Heaven when you die?’”
Flipping the bill over, they looked at the back and laughed a little – not quite sure how to respond. That didn’t surprise me; I knew that if I acted comfortable and confident, they would probably warm up and become more serious.
“So have you had a Christian background?” I asked.
They said they had.
“What do you think? Are you sure you’ll go to Heaven?”
They nodded hesitantly. They were still going in slow circles on the merry-go-round, which made it a little difficult to speak with them since I was just standing there. So finally I just laughed and said, “Okay, I’ll just walk around in circles with you guys”. And at that point they stopped the merry-go-round and gave me their attention.
“So why do you think you’ll go to Heaven?” I asked.
They timidly threw out a few ideas. Samantha said she had been baptized and went to church sometimes, and John said he tried to be good.
“So basically you think you’re good enough to make it to Heaven?” I asked.
They grinned awkwardly, not knowing quite how to answer.
“You know, we never know when we are going to die,” I reminded them, “So it’s important that we’re sure we’ll go to Heaven. We don’t like to think about death because it’s sort of scary, but young people die frequently in car accidents and things like that. So let’s just say you got hit by a car tonight, and stood before God and He said, ‘John, (or ‘Samantha’) why should I let you into Heaven?’ What would your answer be?”
“I know it’s a tough question,” I said.
“Because I try not to be selfish… ?” John replied.
“But how do you know when you’ve been good enough to make it to Heaven?” I asked. “Even though you may not feel that you’re very bad compared to other people,” I continued, “we need to remember that God sees from a different perspective and He has a very high standard – perfection. Even if we’ve only lied once, we’ve already broken His law.”
I had their full attention now.
“If you get a speeding ticket, you have to pay the penalty, right?”
They nodded “yes”.
“And even if you don’t do anything else wrong for the rest of your life, you would still be in trouble with the law, and you would still have to pay the speeding fine.”
“Well, God told us in the Bible that the punishment for sin is death in hell,” I explained, “and if we’ve broken God’s laws we’ll be guilty before Him.”
They were listening very intently now and I saw conviction on their faces.
“So if you died today, are you sure you’d go to heaven or is there a possibility you’d go to hell?”
They both acknowledged there was a possibility they would go to hell.
“So what do you have to do to go to Heaven?” I asked.
They didn’t know.
“Do you want to know?” I asked. “If you want to know I’ll tell you.”
“What do you have to do to go to Heaven?” John asked.
“Well, it’s really about understanding something God did. He came to earth and became a man, Jesus, (who was fully God) and died in our place. We deserved to die for our sin, but on the cross He took the penalty we should have had. It was totally “unfair”, so to speak, because He had done nothing wrong. He was the One who was perfect, and we were the ones who had done wrong (and we did it against Him!) yet He took our penalty. It’s sort of hard to comprehend! But He did it because He loved us. I don’t really know why (what’s so special about us?) but He chose to be merciful to us. So now what we have to do is trust Him and repent from our sin. Do you know what it means to repent?
“Not do it anymore,” John said.
“Right—like a car that does a u-turn.”
He nodded in agreement.
“So, John, you mentioned you had a Christian background. Are your parents Christians?”
“My dad was. He used to read his Bible a lot, but that was before he died.”
“He died? When?”
“Three years ago,” he said.
“I’m sure more than anything else he wanted you to walk with God too,” I mentioned.
“Do you both have Bibles at home?” I asked them.
“Yes,” they said.
“Do you read them?” I asked.
“No,” they replied.
“Do you have your dad’s Bible?” I asked John.
“Yeah,” he said.
“Does it have his writing in it?”
“Yes, I saw some,” he answered.
“That’s really special. I’d really encourage you to get it out and start reading it!” I told him, “And I’d recommend starting in the book of ‘John.’ That shouldn’t be too hard to remember since your name is John. It’s in the second half of the Bible. There’s Matthew, Mark, Luke, and then John,” I explained.
He indicated that he was going to go home and read it. John had really warmed up at this point and was very receptive to everything I was saying.
“There’s really nothing more important than knowing God. Why wouldn’t we want to know our Maker – the God who created the Universe? I mean, if the God who created the universe wants to be our Friend, shouldn’t we want to be His?” I asked.
“That’s true,” John agreed.
“It was really nice talking with you guys,” I told them.
“You too! Now I need to go home and ask for forgiveness,” John said, with a sincere smile.
“Yes—that’s great—do that!” I encouraged him.
I reminded them that Satan would try to distract them and keep them from praying or reading the Bible, and that following God is an uphill climb. “But the good news,” I said, “is that when God is on your side, you have the most powerful Person in the universe helping you.”
Please pray that John will ask for God’s forgiveness and salvation (like he said he would) and that the Lord would bring other Christians along his path to water the seed!