This weekend Jonathan Ogden represented Baltimore as the first Baltimore Raven in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. What a huge honor that was for him, his family, and for Baltimore. He represented himself very well, showing humility, gratitude and pride in his individual and team accomplishments. Being an inductee in the Hall of Fame is a time to be thankful for all who have helped you along the way, from that first football coach that saw something special in you to that first football coach that told you that you were not as special as you thought. It’s a time inductees take pride in the fact that they retired their mothers, and give homage to that father that is no longer with them. It is a time for these inductees to enter into their glory, fully coated in bronze but wearing those all important golden jackets.
What an honor! How amazing it must be to examine one’s life and see a record of accomplishments that stacks up so high that few could possibly hope to meet it. In interviews leading up to the Hall of Fame inductions, I kept hearing former and a few new inductees talk about about how going into the Hall of Fame was “heaven.” Now, I know what you're saying, "They didn't mean it that way." That may be true; however, I absolutely would not give any real pause to this statement if I had detected the least bit of allegory, but I sensed none. This—Canton, Ohio, a bronze bust, being admired and gazed upon by family, fans, former, future, and wannabe hall of famers—was heaven!
Okay, now I have a pause. No matter what the honor, nothing in this world can measure up to heaven. Heaven is a very distinct place, where only God’s elect will go. It’s the place where the only One who deserves any glory lives and reigns. We must be extremely aware of the things that we say and attitude we have about earthly honors. Sure, they have their place, but they can also be a net about your feet. Only what we do for Christ will last.
People may think that the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio is eternal but it’s not. It’s just a building with a lot of bronze busts of people who did extraordinary things on a football field, but heaven it is not. Our minds can't possibly imagine a hint of how amazing heaven is. The more we realize that this earth is limited and our lives—like the word of God says—are like a vapor, the more it should make us look to the Author and Finisher of our faith. There’s no way to get around the fact that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and He is so good that He exchanged His place in heaven to come suffer on a cross for humanity and rose to set us free from eternal life in Hell. Some will trample over that sacrifice by denying who He is or denying the truth of His word, but other will lay down their lives to proclaim that He is God.
Jesus was humble when He walked this earth. He had all power, yet used all meekness. What a God! By confessing the Lord with our mouths and believing unto righteousness with our hearts, God gives us His Spirit, sealing us so we can make it to the only real heaven, a place that is neither allegorical, metaphorical, or a fantasy land. Don’t set your mind on the low things of this earth, when God has so much more for His children in heaven. Fixate your love on Him, be obedient to God’s word, and don’t seek the glory of this world. In doing these things, God will exalt you in this earth and you won’t have to sacrifice your soul for earthly crowns that will fade.