I’ve been on a bit of a quest this last year or so.
In less than two years, I’ll be fifty years old. Fifty. The thought of it amazes me, really. Like, how did that happen?
But in light of eternity, fifty is nothing. It’s not enough to be even a drop in the eternity bucket. So this quest I mentioned has to do with eternity. As believers in Christ, we talk a fair amount about it, and yet most of us live as though it isn’t real. We focus ourselves on the here and now, really behaving no differently than non-believers. You see, those who have not chosen to put their faith in Christ, at least most of them, think this is all there is. So their focus is here. Do everything you can, accomplish everything you can, and have everything you can… because this is all you get.
I know lots of Christians who find themselves living within that mindset, too. We talk some about eternity, but we don’t live our lives like we really believe it’s real. We live our lives for this life, almost completely neglecting the life to come, and in doing so, we starve the very part of us that will step into eternity and keep on trucking. We starve our souls.
We do believe in the life to come, don’t we? That age where time is no more. That existence where there is no more pain, no sadness, no disappointment, disease, sorrow, or evil. That place where we are fully known and know fully. The realm where time is gone and forever is a reality; where believers in Christ exist and reign with him forever. We do really believe that stuff, don’t we?
I’d venture to say that most of us spend precious little time thinking about that. It can be hard to wrap our minds around the concept of forever. But I’d like to propose that if we did, it would change the way we see things today, tomorrow, and the day after that. It would put to bed a lot of the issues that we carry around from our yesterdays. I’d venture to say if we thought more about eternity, we’d spend more time on the things that really matter. And here’s the truth, only the things that matter for eternity really matter.
We get so caught up in how people treat us or what opportunities we deserve. Christians can be some of the haughtiest people I know. Haughtiness is the Christian’s Aquilles heel. Haughtiness means to be condescendingly proud.
I know. I googled it.
What does God say about the prideful? In James 4:6, the Bible says God opposes the proud. When we are haughty and prideful, God stands in opposition to us. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have God standing against me.
So how do we overcome haughtiness? Our mission here on earth, in this present darkness, is to walk in humility. It is humility that leads us to God’s grace.
I have heard that in this life, there is no dress rehearsal. I’d like to propose that this life actually IS a dress rehearsal for eternity. This is our training ground for forever. There will not be any one of us who will pass into eternity without standing before our Creator to give an accounting of our lives here. All this stuff we think we are due, or things we feel we deserve, will suddenly pale in comparison to hearing from our Maker’s lips, “Well done my good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of your master!”
In that moment, no promotion, recognition, award, commendation or opportunity will matter so much as those words. Our mission here, for this dress rehearsal, is to get it right. As the prophet Micah put it, we are to live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
Living life in full view of eternity changes a person. The things that matter to us so much, begin to seem silly. We start to see our own silliness in others around us. We could point a finger at it all, but we might as well point it at ourselves.
If we strive to live as Jesus lived, a life of humility, simplicity, and peace, then when we actually do step from this life into the next, we’ll be walking into familiar territory. And forever will feel a good bit like home.
If this concept of eternity is striking a chord with you, let me suggest some resources to help you on the journey. Soul Keeping, by John Ortberg is a great one, as well as You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan. That one looks a lot like a marriage book by the cover… but you know what they say about judging a book by its cover!
And here’s a pretty good video that might help you become eternally minded.