Our Heavenly Goal
August 22, 2010
The text for today's sermon, meditation is the gospel lesson that we heard a little while ago, Luke 13:22-30. That passage reads:
 Then Jesus went through towns and villages,
teaching and journeying towards
He said to them,  "Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door saying, 'Lord, open [the door] to us.' Then he will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.'
 "Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.'
 "But he will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!'
 In that place there will be weeping
and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the
prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves cast out.  And people
will come from east and west and from north and south, and recline at table in
How many different kinds of goals are there? In football there are field goals. In hockey, lacrosse, and soccer you score goals
to win the game. There are life goals
that guide what you achieve during your time on earth. What’s your goal in life? Is it a certain amount of money? Is it to attain a certain job title or maybe
some college degree? Is it to save
enough money to travel to a foreign country?
Is it to be a good Christian parent? Whatever it is, according to
goal-setting-guide.com and many other goal setting websites, the most important
thing is to write the goal down. In
1979, Mark McCormack, the author of “What they don’t teach you at
In order to be effective, goals not only need to be written down, but they need to be properly planned over a reasonable amount of time. Writing down on Christmas Eve that you will lose 20 pounds by Christmas Day will not do you any good. If you start towards your goal of losing twenty pound in August, but have on your list “Eat a fast food lunch and watch 7 hours of television everyday”, you will not achieve it. You need to do a little research to find the proper way to achieve your goal. You may need someone to teach you how to achieve your goal.
It’s not easy to achieve a goal. Obstacles come up along the way to test your dedication. There might be health issues. There might be financial struggles. There might be the death of a love one that makes you think you cannot go on. Without being able to refer back to your written guide, you risk being part of that 97% that doesn’t achieve the final goal. The road to a goal is narrow.
Our Gospel lesson today begins with Jesus teaching people along His
Jesus does not just give a yes or no answer. He tells us to clearly set our goal on heaven but warns that is a difficult course that not many are going to complete. Difficult does not mean impossible. In Matthew 19:26 Jesus discusses how hard it is for a rich man to get into heaven. Jesus says it’s easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle. That seems absolutely impossible so the disciples ask the very direct question, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus reassures them that there is help by saying “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Jesus encourages us to try. In
the words of Luke 13:24, Jesus says, “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for
many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” The choice of words is very interesting. “Strive” according to the Merriam-Webster
dictionary has two meanings. 1) to
devote serious effort or energy and 2) to struggle in opposition. If you’ve ever played soccer then you
understand “strive” very well. Goals do
not come easily, especially in the highest levels of the game, such as the
World Cup Tournament that was held
Our Epistle reading, Hebrews 12:4, talks about this struggle. The verse starts off with the words “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Shedding your own blood to resist sin? How many of us are willing to do that to achieve our heavenly goal? This really is a narrow door.
We don’t have infinite time to achieve our goal. The Harvard study was completed in 10 years. That’s a long time, but it’s not eternity. A soccer match ends in 90+ minutes whether a goal is achieved or not. So it is with our time here on earth and our ability to attain our heavenly goal. Verse 25 tells us that there is a time when our goal is no longer attainable “When once the master of the house has risen [alluding to Jesus’ resurrection] and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door saying, 'Lord, open [the door] to us.' Then he will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.'” There is an end time. We don’t know when that is, but God the Father does and we have to be ready.
When that end time comes, if we have not had that relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ, then we could be left short of our heavenly goal. If we have fallen short of our heavenly goal, our human nature will have us complain and try to show God that it is all so unfair. Verse 26 says, “"Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.'” How could you not let us in? You have to know us. We ate and drank right near you. You were a teacher right here in our own streets. Jesus taught, but did you learn?
God gave us an amazing opportunity to achieve our heavenly goal. God sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to be crucified on that first Good Friday and to rise to conquer death and our sins on that first Easter Sunday, three days later. Having given us his Son, God answers our complaints from Verse 26 with Verse 27. “"But he will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!'” God is telling you here that you don’t get into heaven.
One of the hardest parts of not getting into heaven will be that you
can see those who attain their heavenly goal, only you will be on the outside
looking in. Verse 28 says, “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of
teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the
kingdom of God, but you yourselves cast out.”
hope. Jesus finally answers the original question by saying that the people who
attain their heavenly goal will come from all over the world, even
Thankfully you are not alone in this journey to your heavenly goal. There’s help. Jesus promises that help. It’s a free gift. Ephesians 2:8 & 9 tells us “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God -- not the result of works, so that no one may boast." With faith in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for all of our sins for all time, our heavenly goal is assured.
And now may the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ preserve you and keep you unto life everlasting. Amen.
After Sermon Prayer
Lord, I am so happy that you offer us hope for achieving our heavenly goal through faith in your son Jesus Christ. We thank you for your written guide, the Bible, to help us achieve that goal and shape our life. Some of us may have become discouraged from life’s trials that we cannot achieve our heavenly goal. Renew our spirit with the certainty that even though the door is narrow, our living faith in Jesus Christ lets us enter in. In Jesus’ holy name we pray. Amen.
After Offering Prayer
Lord, God, our heavenly father. We ask that you instill in us a heart set on our heavenly goal. Lift us up when we fall down in sin. Encourage us to continue in faith even when we feel too discouraged. Remind us that that narrow door is open to us because of your love. Your love is so deep that you gave your only son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for all of our sins, past, present, and future.
We remember the teachers, administrators, and
students who are about to begin their school year. Guide the learning with your infinite wisdom
and love so that your light might shine on each life that is touched. Bless those from
We cannot comprehend why sin entered our hearts
and caused dissent between people in this world. We only know that it is sin that is at the
root of armed conflicts in various areas.
While we hope and pray for the end of these conflicts, we are grateful
for those who serve our great country in the military. Shield all who serve in harm’s way that they
might return safely to their homes here in the
We pray for those who are ill whether at home or in care centers or in hospitals. We ask for healing and a strengthening of faith during these times when the body is afflicted. Being ill or recovering from surgery is a time when we feel so alone and every minute seems like an hour. Be with all those who are afflicted and give them the comfort that all things work for good as we head towards our heavenly goal. Be with the care givers and family members who silently share in the strain of the illness. We especially pray for those on our sick list.