It was a brisk but leisurely walk on a late February day – today actually. I’ve just finished my morning walk down 48 Avenue in Langley, British Columbia. Back home on the East Coast of Canada there are mountains of snow; but here, where I am visiting, just the beautiful Rocky Mountains are in sight.
Admiring the spectacular beauty and appreciating the early Spring blossoms appearing on the trees and with the ducks peacefully swimming in the ditches, something had just flown past my head. Normally I wouldn’t wear a helmet when I am just out for a walk. But tomorrow morning I will be more careful and watchful. Less reflective and more alertive – if there is such a word.
I looked across the street to see where the flying object may have originated. It was from one of those country clubs. Golfers were teeing up and giving it their best shot. I don’t know how my head would have responded had it been struck. But given the speed with which it flew past my face, I think, as a minimum, I would have collapsed to the sidewalk.
Interrupted by the near hit, I thought I should at least recover the best-shot-golf-ball. Eventually I found it in the bush. I took it to coffee with me wondering whether the golfer was even giving it a second thought. Just another lost golf ball. It happens to even the best in the profession from time to time – not just amateurs. Was it the golfer’s best shot? Probably not, but even if it was, the consequences were minimal.
As I drank my Americano I gave it more thought. My mind went to another sphere – a spiritual reflection. Over the years I have politely asked people if they are going to be in Heaven after they die and more than once I’ve been told: “Well, I’m giving it my best shot.” Outstanding and upright citizens of our country have told me – “Sir, I expect so. I definitely am giving it my best shot.” Others, living rather dark, fractured, and broken lives have told me basically the same thing: “Dude, I don’t know but I’m gonna give it my best shot.” A slight difference in how they articulated their spiritual strategy but the bottom line was no different.
Giving it your best shot may be a good strategy for golfing and for other things in your life – but it’s disastrous if that’s your approach to Heaven.
Jesus met a man one night who was sincerely giving Heaven his best shot. There was no mediocrity in his life. Nicodemus every day worked hard at doing his best. He pursued excellence. He planned on being in Heaven. If living a good life, if being a strong believer, if being genuine and sincere about your faith and being diligent and devout about your religion – if that’s what it takes to get to Heaven, Nicodemus was a ‘shoe-in’. That’s an English idiom to say – he’d make Heaven for sure.
Nicodemus was in for the shock of his life. He discovered that giving it your best shot was not acceptable to God – no matter who the shooter was. He would miss Heaven for sure. He would never be in the Kingdom of God if all he had was his best shot at it. Jesus told him: “Except a person is born again, he cannot enter… he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” You can read that remarkable but crystal clear story in the Bible, the Gospel of John chapter 3.
The chances of making it to Heaven by giving it your best shot are not merely slim – they are nil. There is a 0% chance you will be in Heaven if all you have is your lifetime of giving it your best shot.
The new birth, of which Jesus spoke, is an absolute necessity – it is the singular entrance requirement for acceptance into God’s family and to Heaven.
“You must be born again.”
Jesus wasn’t joking when He said it – nor was He merely suggesting it would be a good thing. He said it was a ‘must’.
A sinner is ‘born again’ the moment he or she consciously repents of sin and places their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Jesus told Nicodemus that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”John 3:15.
The Bible is clear – no one gets to Heaven based on their sincere efforts or personal merit. Our deeds and works have 0% value when it comes to the forgiveness of our sins and acceptance by God. You must receive by faith Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour or you will miss heaven for sure.
For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
To give something your best shot and miss – is okay when it comes to an exam in school, or performance at work or even in golfing. But when it comes to eternal life and being in Heaven, it will result in disaster.
Think about it.