By Pastor Mike Gudka   St. Paul United Methodist Church, La Porte City

What Happens When I Die?

During the month of March, I have been exploring what is commonly called a “personal world-view.” Whether you think you do or don’t, you do have one. But you might not have identified exactly what your personal world-view is. A personal world-view is formed from our experiences, our parents and family values, our learning throughout our lives, and it drives our personal perspective or point of view of the way the world works. It shapes how we act and react, what we believe, and it serves as a focal point for how we live our lives. It even determines what we are after in life and what satisfies us the most.

In this final message from me during March, we hit an important question, “What Happens When I Die?” After all, “death” has a pretty good track record of getting us all and so far death has a batting average of 1,000. It is a question that many times comes to people’s minds when they have to attend a funeral. They wonder what will be said at their funeral and what will happen to them. It is a question that has an absolute iron-clad answer, but too many people want to avoid the question all together.

Many have taken the world-view that nothing happens after they die. They just die. This flows out of the philosophy of evolution. But for most people, to absolutely accept this view is too big of a step of faith. They just have this feeling that there is something bigger out there and there is something after this life.

Then there are those who will answer this question about what happens when they die by saying, “Well, I am a good person. After all, I never killed anyone. So I must be going to heaven.” And to this answer, I ask them the question, “So what is “good enough?” Is there a specific list of things that automatically result in someone not going to heaven?

Well, let’s take a look at what God has told us about “being good enough.” First we must understand that nothing evil, nothing sinful, nothing fallen can exist in the presence of God the Father. And unlike our view of levels of wrong doing, God says that if we sin, if we do wrong, we will not go to heaven. In other words, the end result is the same whether we knowingly steal a pencil from work or kill a bunch of people. If we sin, we will not go to heaven. To God, all wrongful acts, no matter how small, are as one theologian wrote, “a cosmic act of treason.” And the penalty for treason is death (or eternal separation from God by spending forever in hell). And we all have sinned – even me! And therefore, based upon all of us “not being good enough” none of us will be going to heaven. After all, we all have a death penalty to pay for our doing wrong.

So what would you think if you could find someone that loves you so much, that they would be willing to take the penalty of death on themselves? In other words, they would be willing to “pay your fine” so you could go on to heaven. Well that is exactly what Jesus did. He loves you so much, that despite your “cosmic act of treason”, He stands ready and willing to pay your fine, to take on your penalty of death, and all He asks is that you believe in Him and follow Him.

So where are you going to put your faith when you ask yourself the question, “What Happens When I Die?” Are you going to have faith that nothing happens and take the risk that something really will happen? Are you going to have faith that you are good enough and risk what might really happen if you are not? Or are you going to have faith that when you die, you will go to heaven?

Think long about this very important question and rest assured that there is an iron-clad absolute answer to “What Happens When I Die?”