FROM THE PULPIT: Do not miss heaven by 18 inches

By Rev. Mark Broadhead | First Presbyterian Church of Crestview

CRESTVIEW — Some years ago, I read a little pamphlet entitled "Missing Heaven by 18 Inches."

The title conjured up an image of someone jumping on a trampoline trying to reach up to heaven’s gate, but who was not able to attain quite enough altitude to reach heaven. Of course, that was not the pamphlet’s message.

How does one miss heaven by 18 inches? If you stop to think about it, the distance from our head to our heart is about 18 inches. 

You can know the entire content of the Bible. You can know a great deal about Jesus Christ, God, and God’s Holy Spirit. You may be able to memorize scripture and recite it word for word. You can have all kinds of facts and figures neatly tucked away in your memory.

But unless you write the word of God on your heart and live it, unless you let the scriptures guide your decisions and actions, your thoughts and beliefs, you will miss heaven by 18 inches. 

The letter of James says, “Those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act – they will be blessed in their doing.” (James 1:25) 

It can be very easy to forget something we hear because we don’t take it into ourselves and engage it. We don’t listen.

Living the word of God in every circumstance brings about God’s blessings in our lives. It may be frightening to follow where God leads. It may be confusing to do as he says instead of what we would sometimes rather do. Yet, when we remain faithful to God, we understand God’s faithfulness more clearly.

James doesn’t mince his words. He comes flat out and says in James 1:26, “If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.”

If we say we are disciples of Jesus Christ but live like we’re not, we become liars.

We may be able to talk the talk, but are we able to walk the talk? Are we able to live what we declare? If we don’t live God’s word, we gain absolutely nothing.

As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to rise above what the world says. We are called to rise above natural instincts that may want to drive us. We are called to live what God says. 

There is a phrase we all know: “Put your money where your mouth is.” A turn of that phrase might be, “Put your actions where God’s word is.” As a believer in Jesus Christ, don’t let your words of the faith be empty words. Actually live them.

Mark Broadhead

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.