Think with me for a moment about what will really matter 100 years from now. Really, close your eyes and think for just a moment about where you will be and what will truly matter….before you continue reading. As a believer, you might picture the streets of gold, the gates made of pearl, or the grand mansions just waiting to be inhabited. Perhaps you think about your loved ones who are in paradise at this very moment and long to see them again. Maybe you have suffered great physical or emotional pain and look forward to the day when everything will be restored. There are many of you reading this and thinking about the moment you meet the Lord Jesus face to face. What will it be like to look into His tender, consuming, loving eyes? The reason for my questions are simple: I cannot get my mind wrapped around Christians today who think this life, this earth, and this daily existence is the pinnacle of joy. Not all verbalize it, but it is certainly implied by misplaced affections. Lets try to see why a believer would look at this life as paradise now, while thinking of heaven, dying, or the Lord’s return with melancholy or even despair. In this believer’s life…..heaven is on hold.
I was watching a documentary one evening on the matter of Bible prophecy and end time events. It wasn’t produced by a Christian or religious entity and it didn’t favor one group or another. The show did spend quite a bit of time alongside a typical Christian family complete with a dad, mom, and two sisters in their late teens to mid twenties. The family prayed together, attended church, seemed very close, and by all appearances were devoted Christians. The host asked the family about their beliefs and in particular, their beliefs about the end of the age. Each member of the family seemed to have a grasp on the basics of Bible prophecy. They mentioned the rapture, second coming, millennium, and other events. From their comments, it seemed like the family was opened to the possibility that Jesus’ return may be imminent. I’ll admit that the documentary was just something to watch and see if my interest would soon follow. That was until one of the daughters made a series of statements that got my attention and I’ll paraphrase them: ” I do want him to come again but not yet. I mean…if Jesus comes back now there are things I won’t be able to do. I want to fall in love, get married, live life, etc…”
I don’t wan’t to seem unrealistic or insensitive. I can comprehend a young lady desiring marriage. I understand being apprehensive about the unknown. There is however; a big difference between apprehension and affection. The example of this young lady is a microcosm of a much larger problem in the evangelical church as a whole. Here’s the thing: I believe there is a portion of Christianity worldwide who would gladly trade this old world for heaven in a split second. I also believe there is another portion of Christians who are quite content with things as they are….thank you very much. Why is this the case? I don’t pretend to have the answer but I believe it is a matter of misplaced affection. Scripture clearly demonstrates the difference between heavenly affection and worldly affection:
Heavenly affection – Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Worldly affection – 1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Recently I heard an excellent pastor say, ” Heaven is something people get exited about and at the same time want to postpone” People despair when thinking of death and leaving…..all of this behind. Heaven isn’t appealing to them above all else here in this world. This is because their priorities are backwards. They live for this life, not the one to come. We must remind them when we are absent from this body, we will be in our lord’s presence! Why do some believers get that deer in the headlights look when small talk shifts from Jr’s soccer game to the reality of heaven and eternity? Why do some Christians live like this is their eternal destination instead of living as a pilgrim here? Why is it that when I mention the Lord’s return to some believers I get the…..What are you talking about look? There is one simple explanation…misplaced affection. I’ve been a believer for 30 years now and for as long as I can remember there has been the saying: They are so heavenly minded….they’re no earthly good. This tongue & cheek remark is very telling. On one hand, yes there are some who have abandoned stewardship, witnessing, and being salt and light…for cloistering themselves away until it’s time to leave. That’s not what the scripture teaches.
I have the notion that the: so heavenly minded statement is often miss-applied by religious people who would rather live for the here and now, rather then living like Jesus may return at any moment. This mindset simply begs to have Paul’s litmus test applied to the heart: 1 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.
John gives us perspective on what really matters in the life of a (truly converted person) 1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Heavenly minded believers are vessels full of the spirit of God. They are soul winners because they know both heaven and hell are what’s ahead for humanity. They are realists…because they know this life is but a vapor and the Kingdom of God is eternal. Heavenly minded believers have a Samaritan’s heart. They reach out to the widow, orphan, destitute, and least of these because of who they belong to. They have wisdom and perspective because they are busy laying up treasure in heaven rather than amassing full barns here. A heavenly minded believer longs to see the Lord. He is everything they long for and desire. More of Him, more adoration, worship, and more of His presence. This believer takes Jesus at His word when he promised to go and prepare a place, bring us to himself, and live among us forever. A heavenly minded believer has experienced a radical heart transformation that desires more of God and less of this world and all it has to offer.
A. W. Tozer – I can safely say, on all of the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored or turned off by worship is not ready for heaven.
The professing Christian who seems content with the initial conversion experience and then conducts a…..business as usual day to day life, has not experienced the glory of the presence of God. I believe some people have a “conversion experience” and that’s where they begin to stagnate. Stagnation occurs when we get our eyes off of Jesus and on this world. Yes they may be saved from hell. But that is where the believer’s journey begins. We don’t drop anchor in the harbor of new Christian. By faith, we leave the safe harbor and venture out into the open water of life and engage people about eternal matters and the gospel of Christ. We are willing to skip the new sofa so we can bless another family. We are willing to be late for our dinner reservation in order to witness to the parking attendant. We are willing to be labeled as a Christian even when it will cost us because…..this is just a brief moment in the economy of God.
I see Sodom with it’s lush fields, full vineyards, and sun bleached buildings full of things, business, commerce, and sin. In an instant there is a roar of hot wind, hail, fire, and sulfur from above……then Sodom is reduced to a smoldering ruin at the edge of the Dead Sea. What about Lot’s wife? Why did she look back? I firmly believe her heart was there. How about the rich young ruler? He certainly witnessed the supernatural power of the rabbi from Nazareth. Jesus knew the man’s heart and told him what had to be done in order to follow him. Why didn’t the young man sell everything and follow Jesus? His treasure was here on earth.
Why do some who call themselves Christians have a very limited perspective on all things eternal? Because hearts, heads, and hopes are on this life…..not the one just ahead. When the busyness of life, Jr’s soccer practice, the new car, my facebook status, pursuits, and other affections obscure our 1st love and become our priority, we desperately need to run headlong back toward Jesus. Eternal things are the only things that will matter in 100 years. Why is is some fellow believers get fired up with longing when we talk about the Lord’s return or eternal matters? It is because these believers have a daily abiding personal walk with the Lord Jesus. It’s a sweet tangible fellowship with the Lord and nothing else will sway their affections. I hope and pray everyone who reads this article and has been wavering on true eternal perspective will ask the Lord to renew their love for what really matters. What will follow is a believer who is effective, bold, resolute, and surrenders to God’s will….not to the temporary distractions of this world. Don’t put heaven on hold.
Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
All for Him,