Lately, I have found myself thinking a lot about heaven; lockdown has given me time to be confronted with our broken world. Loss, unrests, pain and suffering has led me to quietly exclaim ‘maranatha’ these couple of months as I wade through my own set of difficult circumstances. Whereas before my hope for heaven was sullied by experiences and ambitions not yet achieved, now I find my mind drifting to ‘the street of the city [made of] pure gold, transparent as glass’. I think of that day when I will finally face the Father with His hosts of angels. I think about finally being free of sin; not having to fight pride, envy, and irritation- the reality that what I do is fully to His glory. I have thought of a world void of suffering, physical pain, and peace forevermore. How sweet that would be!
During my musings about heaven, I have also found the temptation to think of the pointlessness of it all- work, university, marriage etc. Why bother since there are eternal treasures and rewards waiting for me? There is some error in thinking that way. You see, the reward that awaits us in heaven does not mean we can shirk our responsibilities, nor does it render our efforts meaningless. A right view of God and his kingdom makes us brilliantly equipped to be the best citizens now.
I believe when we truly appreciate that this world is not our home, that we are just pilgrims passing through, we are better prepared to:
1. Endure whatever suffering may come our way
After apostle Paul talks about how physical bodies are wasting away and our longing to be with God, he says ‘So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight’ (2 Cor 5:8). Christians are strengthened through the power of the Holy Spirit to stand firm amid life’s storms because we are sure of his promises for the future.
2. Give and be charitable
Since we know that we are laying up treasures in heaven where ‘moth and insects do not destroy’ (Matt 6:19), we can be free from holding unto riches and fame like our lives depend on them. We give willingly because we know that there are better riches waiting for us and the wealth in this world pales in comparison with the ‘eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison’ (2 Cor 4:17).
3. Use our time wisely
We know that we are on this earth temporarily and we also know that to live is Christ, therefore we ought to spend our time responsibly acknowledging that God can call us home at any time. Each of us have been given a race to run and as J.I Packer once said, ‘we should aim to be found running the last lap of the race of our Christian life, as we would say, flat out.’
4. Work diligently
When we are so focused on our eternal destination, there is the temptation to be indifferent to everything else. However, that is contrary to what Jesus taught in the parable of the talents. Our father has given each of us the gifts and talents to work with; He has entrusted people, work, and roles into our care, and we are wrong to think these do not matter because they are temporary. Since we look to meet our Father one day, we are motivated to use our gifts and efforts in a way that pleases Him. Our motivation is not only in the fact that hard work may pay off on this earth, but because diligent work pleases God, and we will one day reap the rewards.
5. Do good unto others
Longing for the glory to come moves us to evangelise because firstly, we desire to share in this glory with so many others that do not yet believe. On the flip side, we desire their salvation because we know the alternative- eternal damnation, thus our hearts burn for them to give their lives to Christ. Even before that, we are motivated to serve and attend to needs of others. We are called to ‘let our light shine others so they may see our good works and give glory to our father in heaven’. Therefore, we ought to bring glory to God through our kind words, our generosity, our readiness to help, and service to others.
I may have sixty, ten, or forty years more to live and I will spend those years longing for Christ to return but it does not mean I stay in bed just waiting. No, for every day that I am alive, ther
e is a purpose to which God has called me and so I will joyfully get out of bed, diligently do my uni work, willingly serve my friends, family, and church, and ‘go about my Father’s business’(Luke 2:49).