From the pulpit: No one deserves to go to heaven

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 19, 2007

By Bill Brown / Guest Columnist

Pastor Edward F. Markquart, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Seattle, doesn’t think Mother Teresa deserved to go to heaven!

But before you protest, read what he says.

“Of all the Christians in the world, Mother Teresa must rank near the top. She must have the longest list of good works behind her name. She must have the largest number of good deeds. Within the grade book of heaven, she has more 100 percent and more perfect papers than any other saint who has ever lived.

Yet, she too was given eternal life and salvation. She didn’t earn it. She doesn’t deserve it. I repeat: Mother Theresa does not deserve eternal life… although you and I waffle a bit and think she does. We think to ourselves: ‘Mother Teresa has loved the dying people in Calcutta so much, surely, Mother Teresa deserves eternal life.’

But the Bible is clear; all people have sinned. All people have fallen short of the glory of God. No one is saved by his or her good works before Almighty God. We are saved by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ, for works of love. Salvation is a gift for people who do not earn it, who do not deserve it, and are surprised when the gift of salvation is given.

Mother Teresa, when she was asked about her life, said in her Yugoslavian, guttural brogue — that sounds almost like a growl — ‘I am unworthy. I am unworthy. I am unworthy that God chose me to live with the poor. How unworthy am I that God chose to give me eternal life. I am not worthy.’ Mother Teresa knows that she has been saved by grace. It is a gift of God to her, She receives it humble.”

None of us deserves anything from God. What we receive from God is unconditional love, grace and mercy. We can show God our appreciation through faith in Jesus Christ and by reflecting (giving) unconditional love, grace and mercy to others. Even when we do all of those things, I agree with Pastor Markquart, we don’t deserve heaven. God doesn’t owe us anything. We owe God everything!

Show your faith this Sunday. Invite a neighbor to church.

Bill Brown is pastor at First United Methodist Church in Montevallo