There are many nice people in the world. From those who hold the door, to those that pay for another’s meal at a drive-through, to that friend who will bend over backward to help a loved one in need, kindness can show up in this world where we least expect it.
Not every nice person wants to love Jesus. As Christians, that fact can bewilder our faith. How could God create so many nice people, and let them go to Hell? It seems so wrong that He would destroy something beautiful, someone created in His own image, when we know that God is Love Himself. What does He want us to know here?
Heaven is Holy
In the beginning, God called the world very good. When mankind, through Adam, chose to follow their own path, their rejection of God’s love and goodness tainted everything in the world with evil, even what we perceive to be nice. Not one of us is naturally good. (Psalm 14) Even with “pretty good” people being allowed into Heaven, the stain of our selfishness, however small, would still be enough to darken the beauty and joy of His perfect Heaven. In addition, unless we are covered by the blood of Christ, we will be burned up by the blazing purity of God, in all of His radiant glory. (Isaiah 6)
God Looks at the Heart
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
~1 Samuel 16:7
We usually think of this verse as showing that we cannot judge others by what we see. However, we also have to remember that we can even look at our own outward appearances and not see what is in our heart the way that God does. It can be very easy for us to believe that we are good, trustworthy, kind people, faithful friends, and loving neighbors, but we can easily trick ourselves.
Without the consistent guidance of the Holy Spirit molding and transforming our hearts, we will always overlook the things in our lives that still grieve His Spirit and hurt others. We will either brush it off and make excuses, or just never realize that the stain of wickedness goes so deep. This goes for all of us. It is not enough to attend church and have the world label you a Christian. It has to be the Lord who calls us clean.
Jesus Loves All People
Isn’t that a reason He should let nice people into Heaven? Well, the above reasons explain some of why not, but there is more.
“Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Again, we are talking about nice people, so how does this verse prove the point? Well, the servants of God will be in leadership in Heaven. (See the parable of the talents, also in chapter twenty-five.) If we are caring for the very least, there is no room for our own selfishness. Who are the least of these? Each one of us judges outward appearances with different eyes. Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus used him as an example of a good neighbor because of the animosity between Samaritans and Jews. A Samaritan could help a Samaritan and would not be helping “the least of these”. A Jew might help a Jew, a Greek might help a Greek. A poor man might help a poor man without loving the least.
Jesus means to teach us love so that we will take care of His people. Who is it hardest for you to love? Being generally nice cannot make us love unconditionally. Only Jesus can give us this love. We cannot love others perfectly while rejecting Jesus. Jesus promises us more than anything the world could ever offer us, because He is the King. (Luke 18:24-30) If we reject the One who pours out every glory, will we ever love those who can give us nothing? It is not that Jesus is too sensitive. His heart weeps and breaks for those we reject. He comes to them in their pain, and uses His own rejection to show where our hearts truly lie.
He is the standard of true, absolute goodness and love. If we turn to Him, He will train us to love as only He can, and teach us true kindness and love through His Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 23). None of this means that we ought to think less of the nice people we meet in they are not following Jesus. On the contrary, we have have the chance to show them real love and kindness.
Keep being kind.
Keep showing the selfless love of Jesus.
Most importantly: always be ready to share the reason for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:15)