So how do I know the difference?
You can tell how people view serving God by the way they talk about heaven. We hear people talk about when they get to heaven they can’t wait to sit in their mansions, hang out with family and friends who have passed on (and this normally includes ALL friends and family, regardless of their relationship with God – we don’t like to admit that some people will actually go to hell) and all this other wonderful stuff – but how many times do you hear anyone say they can’t wait to get to heaven to see God? To talk to Jesus? To hear them say “well done My good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21)! People talk about heaven like it’s a VIP Club that everyone gets into as long as you are a “good person” but this is not so! Heaven is a place reserved for the faithful followers of Christ who did His will while here on earth and chose Him over the pleasure of the world (Titus 2:12, Hebrews 11:25, James 4:4).
Heaven isn’t some simple club that everyone goes to after this life because God is just that good (though He is that good), God is a just God and in Him being a just God He gives us choices and with those choices come blessings and curse – depending on which we choose. He lays it out plainly before us to choose wisely but we are enticed by our own desires and we easily fall away if we aren’t committed to Christ with our whole hearts – mind, body, spirit, and soul. “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” Deuteronomy 30:19 Those who fail to choose life and the good things of God…those who desire to just desire to be a “good person” apart from God, will never see the goodness of God in heaven lest they change their rebellious ways – anytime we do anything apart from God, it results in the sin of pride because we then [attempt to] elevate ourselves above God just as Satan did- and well, we all know how his story ends.
Then there are those of us who serve God because we “have” to – because all my friends are saved, or I grew up in the church, or my parents/grandparents expect me to serve Him. You fear what they will say or do if you don’t (there are many who will cut you off if you don’t serve God) When you serve God this way, you aren’t serving Him rather the people in your life that you are trying to impress with you “relationship”. Let me be the first to tell you – you can stop right now trying to impress people with your relationship with God because the only thing you will get from that is man’s approval – God is not impressed with your need to impress others. In addition, anyone that is truly serving God and walking with Him intimately – can see right through your façade and will eventually call you out on it.
This type of relationship is dangerous because it allows you to – put on airs in front of certain people to maintain the appearance of following Christ wholly – but also maintaining a separate life that has nothing to do with God. This allows you to become religious, calling God when you need something, or when things are really bad, citing the cute little tag lines and singing all the cute church songs – you even may work in ministry – some even in leadership – but it’s all for the glory and approval of man and never grows to have any substance. In fact, those who serve God like this never come to experience the true goodness of the God they serve because they to serve like it is a burden in bondage rather than freedom (Galatians 5:1, Ephesians 3:12, Galatians 4:31)- enjoying the love and intimacy God provides and desires from each of us (Ephesians 2).