You're on the operating table. You're about to get a heart transplant. The doctors and nurses surround you. Machines blip and bleep softly in the room. Then a man with hairy hands slips a mask over your nose and mouth, and you hear a slight hissing noise.
You rip the mask off your face and push the hairy hand away. "Wait a minute," you say. "What's going on here?"
The doctors and nurses look at you with puzzled expressions.
"You were going to put me to sleep, weren't you?" you accuse.
"Well, uh, yes," the head doctor says. "That's how it's done. We have to put you to sleep while I operate on you."
"While you operate on me?" you screech. "No way! I'm doing it myself."
"You?" the doctor says, sounding shocked.
"Yeah," you answer. "Who else?"
He gently places his hand on your shoulder. "Look, I'm the doctor. You're the patient. No matter how much you may want a new heart, you can't do it yourself. You've placed yourself in my care. Now you just have to trust me."
You let out a sigh of relief. "Good. I think I could've handled the inferior vena cava, but I was worried about connecting that superior vena cava in time!"
Of course, you'd never try to perform your own heart transplant, would you? But a lot of us make a similar mistake. We may think we can become Christians and go to heaven by being good and doing the right things. But that's not how it works.
The only way to get to heaven is by believing in Jesus Christ and asking him to forgive our sins. When we do that, his Holy Spirit comes to live in our heart. He then helps us to make right choices. Or, to put it in the doctor's words: When we ask Jesus to "operate" on our heart, we place ourselves in his care and then just have to trust him. That's how the operation works.
REFLECT: You can never be right with God by just keeping his commands; it is only by trusting Jesus. Does that mean you don't have to worry about making right choices? Why or why not? Does making right choices make you a Christian? Does being a Christian help you to make right choices? what's the difference?
ACT: Picture faith as an orange tree that stretches to heaven. The oranges are the right choices you make. The oranges won't get you to heaven; only the tree will. But the tree produces the fruit, just as your faith will produce right choices.
PRAY: If you've never asked Jesus into your life, you can do so now. Pray something like this: "Father God, I admit that I'm a sinner. You sent Jesus to pay the price for my sins. I invite him now into my life. I accept his gift of the Holy Spirit. Thank you, Lord, for giving me eternal life."