When We All Get to Heaven (A Reflection on Matthew 25:31-46)
Once there was a selfish man who died and went to heaven. When he arrived he was greeted at the front door by Jesus.
“Welcome!” Jesus said. “I’m so glad to see you. We’ve been waiting for you.”
Jesus then took the man into a room filled with couches and tables. So many couches and tables. Billions of couches and tables, filled with people lounging, laughing, and sipping coffee. Soft music could be heard faintly over the low rumble of conversation, and Jesus showed the man to his seat, handing him a black card.
“Please sit,” Jesus said, smiling. “We’re about to start.”
After a few minutes, before the selfish man could even get comfortable, Jesus, shaking hands and hugging all along the way, moved quietly behind a microphone placed at the front of the room, flanked by an unassuming cast of characters that he began to introduce, one by one, as angels.
After that, he said this, “Many of you here need to know something.”
A hush fell over the audience, for his face seemed more serious than it had been since the selfish man had entered the room.
“When you were on the earth, there was a lot of suffering. Many, many people were without water, without food, and unwelcomed by others. Some didn’t even have clothing to cover their nakedness. Others were sick, scared, and alone. And some were in prison, alienated and marked forever by their crimes.
“Some of these died because no one helped them. Some of them lived because someone did. Some of them lost faith because no one came to them. Some of them found faith because someone did.
“But the truth behind the truth is that when many of you did these things, you did them to me.
“This is a great mystery.
“I was that homeless man. I was the child with no lunch during the summer when school was out. I was the criminal who was abandoned by my family because of what I had done.
“Some of you came to me, and because of that, you will be blessed forever with a kingdom I have prepared for you since the beginning of time.
“If you were handed a white card when you came in, you may exit to my right and into this kingdom. I will see you there shortly.”
At this, millions of people filed out of the room.
Sobbing could be heard among those still remaining as Jesus stood silently at the microphone. Then, after a long silence, he spoke again.
“Those of you remaining never did any of these things. But you are not bad people. Many of you raised families. Coached teams. And even obeyed traffic laws.”
An uncomfortable laugh could be heard in some corners of the room as Jesus spoke. It was hard to tell if he was joking.
At this, Jesus breathed deeply, and sighed.
“But I forgive you,” he said.
“The angels and I will be coming around to talk to you all individually, to help you understand and to take your confession. When we are convinced that you are truly sorry, you will be given a white card, and allowed to enter the kingdom prepared for you since the beginning of time.
“Please be patient with us,” he said with a smile, “as there are quite a few of you.”
At this, Jesus and the angels dispersed among the crowd as a strangely familiar sound began to drown out the noise of the room.
Suddenly, the selfish man woke up. It had been a dream.
The man turned off his alarm and sat in silence for a few seconds. Then, looking back at the clock, he saw that he was late.
So he dressed himself and went to church. The world continued to spin, and nothing ever changed.
Least of all his heart.