If you read history you will find out that the Christians who did the most for the present world were precisely those who thought the most of the next. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”. Aim at earth and you will get neither. — C.S. Lewis
I read the above quote in Philip Yancey’s latest book Vanishing Grace. It made me realise just how “earth-centric” my life is right now.
Growing up, it seemed that there was an over-emphasis on “getting saved” being all about going to heaven when you die. In recent years, the emphasis has shifted to salvation being much more about here and now.
That has clearly been a much needed corrective, but has the pendulum now swung too far the other way, I wonder?
God is undoubtedly interested in transforming my life here and now. He is passionate about getting me onboard with his mission to bring about a revolution of love here on earth.
The Scriptures never shy away, though, from talking about the life that is to come. It seems my life here on earth is not at all disconnected from the life to follow. My good deeds may benefit those around me right now, but the fruit of those actions echo into eternity.
Jesus’ resurrection is a foretaste, the Bible teaches, of my own future resurrection. I’ll spend forever with God, in a world free from evil, hate, greed, and pride. It’ll be wonderful. And, amazingly, that world is unfolding now.
It began with Jesus but it continues through you and me. Through my earthly actions right now, I can help to build a heavenly new world. Every time I overcome evil with good, hate with love, fear with hope, I bring a little bit of heaven into our world.
And I’ll be judged on all this too. This won’t be about whether God accepts me or not; it’ll be about how far I’ve gone and how well I have done in living a life that brings heaven to earth.
I know I’ll have fallen short, and thankfully God offers endless grace, but I wonder if I lived with more awareness of this future, I’d be more motivated to serve and sacrifice and not hold back in loving my neighbours and influencing our world?
What would happen if I realised there was eternal weight to everything I do with my life? What life would I live if I were fully aware that God will assess everything I do and weigh up whether or not I gave it my all?
I know that judgment can seem scary. I have to remind myself though that, first and foremost, God is a loving father. And I know that, as a father, I don’t demand or expect perfection from my daughters. But I do want them to give their all and to become the best version of themselves they can possibly be. And I think that’s what judgement is mostly about.
It’s about my loving, heavenly father, watching over me, wanting the best for me, willing me to give my all. Like any good father, he showers me with boundless grace and acceptance, while motivating me to want to please him — all the while knowing how much he delights in me.
So, inspired by that C.S. Lewis quote, my aim is to try to be much more aware of the eternal dimension to life. I want to hold the thought of my future resurrection, life with God, and judgement, much closer than I have been. I want to try and do a better job of living now in the light of the life that is to come.
I want to be more fully aware of the heavenly world God wants to see burst forth, in order to better participate in that bursting forth of life and hope and transformation.
In short, I want to aim at heaven and get the earth thrown in.
Originally published at www.samradford.com.