Too few people were taking God up on his offer of eternal life, so heaven ordered the publicity department to come up with a plan. They produced a promotional campaign they called, “Finding Heaven.”

Too few people were taking God up on his offer of eternal life, so heaven ordered the publicity department to come up with a plan. They produced a promotional campaign they called, “Finding Heaven.”


The campaign was built around a contest in which participants could win free passes to heaven.


There were 100 passes in all, hidden in secret locations around the globe. They might be concealed in remote geographical areas or displayed in major capitols. The location of each pass was to be revealed through a series of 12 clues. 


The offer was made on network and cable TV, Facebook and Twitter. On the following day, sales of navigation systems skyrocketed. Stores rushed orders and every manufacturer went on compulsory overtime. Reports of GPS unit theft increased a thousand-fold. 


The chance to score a free pass to heaven met with almost universal excitement. Lloyds of London scheduled an auction to sell recovered passes. T. Boone Pickens went on TV to offer 100 million dollars to anyone who would sell his pass. Teams organized across the globe to join in the hunt, promising to award discovered passes through high tech lottery systems.


The teams, however, disintegrated as quickly as they formed. Suspicion, violence, and even murders were rampant. The United States called out the National Guard to keep order. Russia instituted dusk to dawn curfews in all her major cities. Armies all over the world were placed on alert.


North Korea threatened the destruction of any nation whose citizens violated its borders. When rumors circulated that all 100 passes were hidden in little Liechtenstein, the nation was overrun and its government fell.


And it was not just Liechtenstein. Rumors spread like wildfire across the Internet about the location of the passes. The AP reported that crowds in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta had rushed to a restaurant where a pass was thought to be located. Fifty people died in the stampede, including 12 children. Similar reports from around the globe flooded the news wires.


Stories of violence and deceit multiplied. People were trying to get into heaven through conflict, bribery and fraud. Before the third location clue was even given, world-wide riots had left thousands dead and tens of thousands injured.


Heaven’s publicity department was forced to cancel the “Finding Heaven” contest, but news of the cancellation spawned even more riots. In the months following the debacle, a book skyrocketed to the top of the New York Times’ bestseller list, and stayed there. It was titled (with apologies to Mark Twain), “You can have heaven; I’ll take Bermuda.”


The fable above was suggested to me by my friend Hugh, who pointed out that if entry into heaven cost a million dollars, everyone would be trying to come up with the money. If it required superhuman feats of skill and endurance, people would be dying in the attempt to procure it. If heaven could be won by a contest, people would cheat and even kill in order to emerge the winner.


But heaven is a gift. It is not obtained by wit or skill, but by faith. The apostle Paul puts it this way: “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.”


So do people pay less attention to heaven because it is a gift? Do they neglect the gift or procrastinate over it, thinking that the offer will always be on the table? Or perhaps they doubt the legitimacy of the offer because it seems too good to be true.


I don’t know. But it should be remembered that, while heaven is a gift, a high price was paid so that it could be given, and a great responsibility is incumbent up on those who receive it.


Shayne Looper writes for The Daily Reporter in Coldwater, Mich.