Is Jesus Good Enough For You?

I haven’t read the book, Heaven Is For Real, or seen the movie, and don’t intend to.  (Which I probably shouldn’t be admitting since my literary agency sold the book and my publisher published it.)  I have, however, reflected on the phenomenon.

This is a book that has sold 9 million copies in the US and been translated into 35 languages.  Last weekend, the movie raked in over 22 million dollars.  Clearly, the story of a little boy who says he went to heaven during an appendectomy has resonated with a lot of people.

Plenty has already been written about the book’s shaky theology, so I’ll not plow that field again.  My concern has more to do with what this movie says about the Body of Christ.  It unsettles me to think that so many believers apparently find the testimony of a small boy to be more faith-bolstering than the time-tested words of Jesus, the Messiah.

One person said to me, “The book (Heaven Is For Real) just brought me so much comfort.  I was like, wow, it’s really true.  Heaven really is for real!”

As if Jesus telling us wasn’t good enough.

And therein lies our problem, it seems to me.  Jesus isn’t good enough for us.

His promises aren’t believable enough, so we look to books like Heaven Is For Real to bolster our faith.

His commands aren’t reasonable enough, so we engage in rationalizations to justify our disobedience.

His grace isn’t big enough, so we continue to beat ourselves up over sins we repented of years ago.

His church isn’t likable enough, so we church hop, or just quit altogether and invite our friends over for a happy little get-together in our living room.

Poor Jesus.  He is good, but for some people he just isn’t good enough.

Is Jesus good enough for you?

 

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14 Responses to Is Jesus Good Enough For You?

  1. Mark. Sir. I think the reason the book and movie are successful is the power of testimony.
    I am with you on Jesus giving us the truth…”I go to prepare a place for you.”
    I take Him at His word and you can tell that by what I write.
    People NEED to hear how He is real in the everyday life. Separating our lives into the “sacred” and “secular” is scary. We need to tell what He is doing in our lives TODAY as Healer, Shepherd, Comforter…. This is what builds up the Body.
    “Those who trust Him know Him by name” (Ps 9:10) and those who know Him by name need to tell about. People are flocking to the book and movie because the NEED to hear and see Him in their “everyday.”

    • Mark says:

      Chris, you may be right. I would simply counter that me reading about someone else’s experience is me seeing Jesus in HIS everyday, not mine.

  2. Aric Marshall says:

    Mark, as much as I whole-heartedly agree with the fact that Jesus is and should be enough and that His word is and should be enough for us, I would have to say that “Heaven Is For Real” was created for the same reason you publish and put out books of your own. If you’re questioning as to whether this movie and book is necessary in our lives than there really shouldn’t be any other writings, articles, artwork, or music about Jesus from any author or artist. People have a need to talk, write, create, and hear, read, and learn from others about Jesus otherwise we could all say that all we need to do is pick up our Bibles and read instead of attending a conference, sermon, or concert. There are so many ways in which we can learn from and about Jesus. “Heaven Is For Real” is one of those reminders.

    • Mark says:

      Aric, I absolutely agree with you! However, my post wasn’t about the necessity or value of books, articles, artwork, etc. Of course we need them! My office is full of them! My post was about the reponse of the Christian community. I simply find it disheartening that some Christians–I think it’s safe to say MANY Christians–find more comfort in the words of a little boy than in the words of Jesus. Jesus’s promises regarding heaven have been in front of us for centuries, but some Christians had to wait until HIFR was published to find peace? I just find it troubling, that’s all.

  3. Timothy Jones says:

    Mr. Atteberry, I remember attending a church when I was younger where a common practice during the service was allowing the congregation to participate in the service by telling their testimonies. Some would stand and praise God for blessings that they had received, others would offer up prayer request for friends and family, some would thank God for new found salvation or baptism.
    Quite frankly, as Christians, its important for all of us to be able to express the realism of what it is to be in a relationship with Christ – to let others know that we believe and sometimes see what God is still doing in this world. By telling others about our experiences (no matter how crazy they may sound) Jesus is exhalted and God is glorified and those around us are encouraged to hold onto their faith and to truly live out what they profess to believe.
    You don’t see “testimony time” much anymore – church services are too much of a “production”. The only people you often see are members of the worship band, the ushers, a prayer counselor or two and the preacher.
    God is doing a lot more in the lives of people than we realize. Honestly, it’s just nice to see and hear about it for a while.

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for a thoughtful post, Timothy. I appreciate it. The only hesitation I have is with your “no matter how crazy they might sound” comment. As a church leader, I believe I am responsible for what happens in the worship service, for what is said to the people. Testimonies can be powerful and effective, but they can also mislead people if they’re not biblically sound. I’ve been in ministry long enough (39 years) to know that once you give a microphone to somebody, you lose control. I learned this the hard way, believe you me. I have come to the place where I love testimonies, but only if I know the person and what he is going to say.

  4. Dan Hargrave says:

    Mark,
    Kristi and I have discussed whether or not to see the movie. (She wants to; me, not so much). I started the book some time ago and didn’t finish it. I am happy for the family and appreciate their testimony. However, my thought was along the same line as your comments. If this family, in particular the little boy, didn’t have this experience, would I be less inclined to believe that Jesus really is coming back? Would I be less inclined to believe in the reality of Heaven? By the way, my answer to both questions in a resounding “no”. The reason I believe that Jesus is returning and that Heaven is real is because I believe in the reliability of Scripture. Again, I am happy to hear people’s testimonies and they, in fact, serve a purpose. I just go back to your premise – is Jesus good enough? Thanks for the thoughtful essay!

    • Mark says:

      That’s exactly my thought process, Dan. I settled the question of heaven being real decades ago. I realize there are some who haven’t settled that question.

  5. Joel Richardson says:

    As a 63 year old college student at St. Louis Christian College, my wife and I both went and saw Heaven is for Real and we did enjoy it. I at heart agree with what you are saying, but like a couple of others I do believe in personal testimonies. For a non-believer who may be sitting in your church and has heard what the Bible has told him over the years and still has doubts, just possibly a Christian standing or writing their personal testimony, could be the deciding factor for them. If you want to say that the movie industry at times adds content to a movie that is not true, that I can buy into; just look at the movie Noah, but I believe we were informed it was going to be that way. For me Jesus is enough, but some who doubt may need that extra truth that comes from a personal testimony.

    Joel Richardson
    Maranatha!!!
    Come Quickly Lord Jesus!!!
    Peace to you and yours!

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for jumping in, Joel. I am all for personal testimonies. They can be en encouragement to our faith. But we must “test the spirits.” Not every testimony is biblical. Also, we must remember that we have all the truth we need in Scripture. If there never was another testimony, we would still have all the truth we need to live the way God wants us to.

  6. Mark Wilkinson says:

    Mark, Right on! The following Scripture tells me that the Apostle Paul was not willing or permitted to share his experience, because of the attention that it diverts from the King of Glory. Everyone seems to be looking for a sign instead of by faith accepting the simple truth of the Scriptures.

    2 Corinthians 12:2–10 (NIV84)
    2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
    7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    • Mark says:

      Mark, thank you so much for sharing a very insightful post, and one that needs to be heard. Jump in more often!

  7. Timothy Jones says:

    I was 8 years old when I first heard about God. I remember a Sunday school teacher explaining about God’s plan and about Jesus, and about how much Jesus loved me and how he died on the cross so that I could be with him in Heaven.
    As an 8 year old I had no real concept of God, or Jesus or Heaven – but, I heard the message that the Sunday school teacher gave and I simply believed and asked Jesus into my heart. I asked for forgiveness. I asked for salvation.
    I had no idea what the implications of believing in God and trusting in Christ would be. I had ups and downs in life. I’ve never been a ‘model Christian’. But I still believe.
    I still believe that Jesus loves me and that he’s prepared a place for me in heaven – and I believe it’s going to be a much better place than I can imagine.
    Maybe I just have the faith that a child would have. Maybe I’m just an immature Christian who at age 45 never got past some very simple thinking. But, I believe it’s all real. Not many of my family or friends do, but I do….

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