Muhammad Ali stunned an interviewer with a humbling answer when asked “You have beaten some of the toughest men in the world, what scares you the most?” Muhammad Ali quietly answered “Not going to heaven”. This response brought tears to his wife Lonnie Ali’s eyes while everyone in the room was stunned.
But Ali’s question made me go to my bible hoping to find a way to admit the man known to the world as “the greatest” into Christian heaven even though he is a practicing Muslim. I am proud to say I have found 2 reasons.
My First reason is Jesus Christ. My Second reason is Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ in 2 different times in the bible made exceptions to allow non-Christian to go to heaven.
The first and most famous is the sinner on the cross. Jesus was hanging between two thieves when one asked Jesus to remember him. Jesus answered “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:42-43 This man was a sinner and had obviously done more bad than good in his life. But merciful Jesus accepted him into paradise just for the asking.
The second example can be found in Mark 9: 38-41
This is where John a disciple comes running to Jesus saying “Teacher we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” But Jesus replied “do not stop him, no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for is.
Then Jesus gives John a scenario that shows how merciful he is. He says “I tell you the truth; anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”
This brings me back to Muhammad Ali. As a kid I attended church that was located on the same street from Muhammad Ali’s Auntie. This aunt was well known for running a candy store in her home.I can remember a many a Sunday running to her store after church to buy my favorite Hersey’s with almond candy bar. I specifically remember one Sunday while standing in line, one of Ali’s cousins bragged how Ali had provided his Aunt with an automobile and a driver to take her to church every Sunday.
I never met the aunt but whatever church she attended was not Antioch Baptist Church located at the corner of 17th and Dumesnil Street where our church was located at that time.
Since Jesus says “if anyone just gives a cup of water to any of my followers in my name will receive his just reward.” Muhammad Ali gave more than a cup of water, he provided an car and a driver for his Aunt to go to church.
Jesus no doubt would personally welcome him to heaven.
Throughout Muhammad Ali’s life the world has watched time after time win victories over Goliaths that seemed insurmountable. Most of his greatest victories were when the odds were against him. So it appears that God himself has shown favor with the Greatest. I know I’m right and I just hope I make it to heaven too.
Because of these 2 bible examples I strongly think Muhammad Ali is heaven bound with Jesus’ blessings.