Being left out hurts. Most of us have had the experience…not getting picked for the team…not getting invited to the party…not getting into a certain social group because of age, color, gender, financial status, or education.
And so, inclusion has become a rallying cry in our culture. Our corporations, public institutions, history books, and television shows, are expected to include everybody equally. Everyone is supposed to include everyone, unless of course we’re talking about someone who doesn’t include everyone — that person can be excluded. As ESPN President John Skipper said, “We have no tolerance for points of view that aren’t inclusive.”
Christianity is open to everyone, because everyone is invited to be saved in Christ. The saving message of the good news of Jesus Christ is for all. But all do not accept the invitation. And that is the reason that heaven itself is exclusive.
Consider what Jesus says in Luke 13:23-24 when someone asked Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” He said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Few will enter the gate that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). Those excluded are excluded because they rejected belief and because their behavior on earth did not comply with God’s will (John 3:18-19; Matthew 25:31-46).
While we may think it compassionate and inclusive to say that nearly every departed soul will spend eternity in heaven, we must realize that heaven itself would cease to be heaven if such were the case. If those who have disrespected God’s name on earth, disobeyed His commands, oppressed their fellowman, and lived for their own selfish desires were allowed to inhabit heaven, how would it be much different from earth? “Either the day must come when joy prevails and all the makers of misery are no longer able to infect it, or else, for ever and ever, the makers of misery can destroy in others the happiness they reject for themselves” (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce).
Yes, heaven is exclusive, but it doesn’t have to exclude you! “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie” (Revelation 22:14-15).