What kind of people will enter God's kingdom?

BY CAREY KINSOLVING Published: May 7, 2012
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"Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven," said Jesus (Matthew 7:21).

"I think it means that whoever says something real fast and doesn't mean it will not enter," says Danielle, 9.

If the speed of one's speech were the issue, northerners would be signing up for speech classes in the south, and native New Yorkers would be doomed.

"Not all people go to heaven," says Jordan, 7.

Jordan, do you know you are being politically incorrect? Everyone assumes that when loved ones die they go to heaven. I think Jordan is saying we're wrong to think that.

Jesus is still the most controversial person who ever lived. He constantly offended the powerful and empowered the helpless.

Jesus not only said the first shall be last and the last shall be first in his kingdom, but he backed it up with action. He dined with prostitutes and tax collectors and overturned the tables of temple moneychangers — those at the center of the religious establishment.

Jesus healed people who religious leaders said were born in sin. He even healed on the Sabbath, which further offended them. They had their rules. He had compassion.

Jesus said that some of the most unlikely people would enter his kingdom. But the big shocker is that many religious people who do things in the name of Christ won't make it. They can't give up trusting in their own righteousness.

Self-righteous, religious pride can justify almost anything, even murder. Remember, religious leaders plotted to see Jesus crucified.

"The only people who are going to heaven are the ones that do God's will," says Chris, 11.

Chris, a group of people once asked Jesus, "What shall we do that we might work the works of God?"

Because we live in a world where productivity is rewarded, it's easy to assume that whoever piles up the best good works will have front-row seats in Jesus' kingdom.

Jesus must have surprised the inquirers with his answer: "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he sent" (John 6:29).

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