The Fast Pass
Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16
Has anybody been to one of the big amusement parks lately?
I haven’t, but I want to ask about one of the newer innovations in amusement parks
One that is kinda cool when you have some extra cash, and that makes you mad if you don’t
Seems that if you pay extra for your day pass, you can go right to the front of any line on any ride
Is that right? What’s that called? Yeah, the Fast Pass!
No matter how long the line is, the Fast Pass people get to go right to the front of the line
How would you feel if someone gave you a Fast Pass? Cause who has an extra 50 bucks for that?
Man, you could get a lot of rides in if you didn’t have to stand in line, right?
Could there be anything cooler on planet Earth?
A 2 and a half minute ride on the roller coaster…walk off the ride…and back to the front of the line
Over and over…as many times as you like! Awesome!
Unless you are one of the people in line without the Fast Pass…true sadness…
Or is it?
What exactly are you sad about? You’re at an amusement park…could be worse!
You could be under water in Texas…or Florida…or Puerto Rico…wow…poor Puerto Rico…
You could be in Mexico buried under earthquake rubble…
You could live in North Korea…
No, you will be on the roller coaster in an hour or two…and the wait hardly seems that long…it keeps moving…all for two and a half minutes pure adrenaline!
And then into the next long, long line…
But, hey, you’ll have a tan…or a burn that will become a tan…and peeling skin
So which person are you going to be in the line going into heaven…the waiters or those with the Fast Pass?
I hope that you are the person with the Fast Pass into heaven…
Now remember, if you are in the Fast Pass line, you will be there with some…let’s say…different people…because that’s what Jesus tells us in today’s gospel
Jesus called them tax collectors and prostitutes…the lowest of the low in his day
Today the tax collectors are called IRS collection agents, and most of us regular folks don’t seem to worry much about them
The prostitutes…yeah, same word today…or other words I will not use in church…and most people don’t worry too much about them, either, as far as impinging upon our lives
What? Those people are in the fast lane into heaven?
Well, some of them are, and so are some of the homeless, and the drunks, and the people who pick their food out of dumpsters, and the drug addicts…fast lane-ing it into heaven right beside righteous disciples of Jesus Christ
“But how can that be?” you may be asking
It can be because the tax collectors, and the prostitutes, and the homeless, and the drunks, and the people who pick their meals out of dumpsters, and the drug addicts…many of them KNOW that they need them some Jesus…and maybe the rest of us don’t think about Jesus very often
That was the first point that Jesus was making that day so long ago
Some people know that they can’t make it through life on their own…they go to Jesus for help
Some people believe that they can get to heaven by following three simple rules
Love God…Love your neighbor…Love yourself!
Pretty simple, right?
Well, it does require you to put all of your eggs…the eggs of your life…in one basket
One magnificent basket…the basket of Jesus Christ…who redeemed you from the cross
And that means that you have to do things differently than your family and friends
For instance, the love that Jesus spoke of leaves no room for making fun of other people…no room for hate…no room for carrying grudges…no room for talking about people behind their backs…because we all do things differently…because God made us all different and gave us different experiences
It’s called free will…a gift from the loving God who made each of us in his image
But there was a second point that Jesus made that day which doesn’t get nearly as much attention
What about the chief priests and the elders…the ones the tax collectors and prostitutes will be in front of
See…there it is…Matthew 21:31b… “Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.”
We like to think that the tax collectors and the elders will be going to a different eternal destination
But the way I read these words, they are going to heaven, too
It’s just that others will be ahead of them
Again, we ask how can that be?
Well, it’s really pretty simple
Let’s think about who would have the longer list of sins…yes, think about who has the longer list of sins
Write it down there in your bulletin…go ahead…chief priest or prostitutes…who has the longer list
Whose list of sins is longer?
Got it? Well, chances are that both of your lists are wrong!
There will be no lists of sins…none!
The New Testament keeps reminding us…and I keep preaching that in dying, Jesus accomplished something for all of humankind, forever and ever
Your sins are forgiven, thanks to the Lamb! You are redeemed!!! Embrace it! You are worthy!
And, better still, your sins are forgotten…thanks to the loving God who gave us everything!
The line into heaven does not form based on sins…the line forms based on love
What you did with what you have been given
Love given in an effort to be more like Jesus…Love given to serve the Kingdom like we were told to
And banging on a book of rules is not the way we show the world Jesus’ love
Holding grudges is not the way we show the world love
Staying mad at people because they do things differently than you do does not show God’s love
Thirsting for money, or power, or other signs of affluence do not show God’s love to the world
Most of us regulars at Springville UMC we blessed to be born in the greatest country in the world
How do you think that happened? The grace of God!
Would you have as much tangible stuff to give if you have been born in a slum in India?
Or in the chaotic towns of Africa? Or in Haiti and the Dominican Republic?
Love is the currency that cuts through all of the socio-economic differences of our world
Everyone has love to give…what are you doing with yours!
After all…You have been forgiven…completely…100%...what else do you want?
You have been guaranteed FOREVER…ETERNITY…in heaven with all of God’s people
Is loving people too much to ask? Even people who are different from you…even poor, homeless, smelly, addicted, unfortunate…people who need that food bank in Brooklyn and other places
Make the most of the love He gave, and continues to give, to YOU!!!
Someday, you will be happy that you did! AMEN