Destination Paradise

Weekend Series: Easter 2023

DreamTeam Writer: Jaron Camp

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Some think paradise is a luxurious getaway with blue water, white sand, and rich foods. If you lived in the DC area, you might see a 40-minute commute as paradise. I’ve also heard rumors of Ohioans who view Cedar Point as their summer nirvana, which is excellent if you like endless lines in 90-degree heat. We all wish for a special place to escape to at one time or another.

How many of us have made it to our perfect destination only to quickly realize it’s too expensive to stay, or we’ll have to return to the real world sooner or later? How many of us continue to dream about reaching or creating such a place: “My own private getaway”? Our escape is an imagined ideal. A utopia. How many times have we tried to make a perfect place in the here and now by putting our faith in the wrong things?

Luke 23:40-43
40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

We must stop dreaming of an earthly utopia and start living for our heavenly paradise. It’s the only perfect destination with no return flight.

“We do not have a paradise on earth; it is riddled with so much sin and disease.”

“I [will] not go to heaven because I am a preacher. I am going to heaven entirely on the merits of the work of Christ.”

These quotes by Billy Graham offer an understanding of the paradise Jesus provided on the cross. Where we are isn’t paradise. Jesus alone—not anything we do by our own work or merit—will get us to heaven. It's easy to fall into the worldly mindset that going to church, being a good person, or checking some other box will be enough, but we need a better mindset.

The humble thief on the cross beside Jesus realized the truth. Salvation does not depend on us. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection made paradise possible for him, and for all of us.

Matthew 19:25-26
25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. 26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

What do you find yourself turning toward to create paradise on Earth?

Do you understand that you can only reach paradise through Jesus?

Next Steps:
Continue learning how to reach paradise by returning to church, joining a Group, and taking GrowthTrack to discover your spiritual gifts.

Dear God, as I reflect on what Easter means, I want to thank you for sacrificing for all of us. I don’t always know where I belong here, but I know who I belong to and the promises made to me. Your love is a blessing, and I apologize for taking it for granted too often. Amen.

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