Why Think About Heaven?
We cannot see, hear, touch or smell Heaven. As a result, it's not something people regularly think about. After all, Heaven seems far away. Shouldn't we focus on getting the most out of this life, having fun and building wealth?
However, we are all still reminded of our mortality one way or another. When we are at death's door, our wealth, real estate, cars, and fun times can't help us(Psa. 49:8-9). Only God can help us at that point(Psa. 23:1-4). We also can't take any of our material possessions or wealth with us when we die(Psa. 49:10-12, 16-20). When confronted with our own mortality, we tend to think about what truly matters.
How do we seek fulfillment?
This is a fundamental question in life. One of the ways of the world says wealth and fame will bring us fulfillment. We think money, cars, large homes and other possessions will be enough.
The book of Job is likely the oldest book in the Bible. In it someone named Job had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, a large number of servants and was the greatest man of the Middle East(Job 1:1-3). Then one day he lost all his possessions and his whole family(Job 1:13-19). Job then said he came into this world naked and will leave with naked(Job 1:21).
King Solomon was probably the wisest man who ever lived. He says wisdom is more profitable than silver(Pro. 3:13-15) and riches won't help on the day of judgment(Pro. 11:4). He also says true treasure is in the home of the Godly(Pro. 15:6) and being poor and honest is better than rich and dishonest(Pro. 28:6). He goes on to say get-rich-quick schemes are futile(Pro. 28:20,22). Later in his life King Solomon laments that despite all the houses, beautiful gardens, reservoirs, gold and silver, many women and everything else he has he wasn't satisfied(Ecc. 2:4-11). He compared it to "chasing the wind".
This all sounds great in theory. However, do these biblical passages from thousands of years ago apply today? We can find plenty of indication they do.
Tom Brady is a successful football quarterback for the Patriots. He has fame and money and has been in several commercials. However, he once said this:
Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there is something greater out there for me? A lot of people would say, 'This is what it is. I reached my goal, my dream...' Me, I think, God, it's got to be more than this. I mean, this isn't... what it's all cracked up to be
Brady knows there's more than just money and fame.
Ben Bernanke is the Fed chairman. As an economist, he knows about money. He made these comments when speaking to college graduates:
We all know that getting a better-paying job is one of the main reasons to go to college, and achieving economic security for yourself and your family is an important and laudable goal. But if you are ever tempted to go into a field or take a job only because the pay is high and for no other reason, be careful! Having a larger income is exciting at first, but as you get used to your new standard of living, and as you associate with other people in your new income bracket, the thrill quickly wears off. Some interesting studies of winners of large lottery prizes, even in the millions of dollars, found (as you would expect) that they were happy and excited on learning that they had won. But only six months later they reported being not much happier than they were before they won the lottery. The evidence shows that, by itself, money is not enough. Indeed, taking a high-paying job only for the money can detract from happiness if it involves spending less time with your family, stress, and other such drawbacks.
Why This World is not Our Home
For believers, this world is not our home. One could say we are strangers passing through a strange land. Every believer's destiny is to be with God(Dan. 7:18). Famous people in the Bible such as Noah and Abraham were longing for a better world(Heb. 11:4-16). We live in a fallen world since Adam and Eve sinned and were banished from the Garden of Eden. We groan while in our bodies that are subject to deterioration but look forward to Heaven(2 Cor. 5:1-4). Whether we get impatient in traffic jams, deal with money issues or whatever trouble life gives, we long for a better place.
Most of us think there must be more to life than what we have seen and heard. We have a yearning for more, like a big gap. We all have a gaping hole that can only by filled by God, who is eternal and infinite. What more could we ask for? We long to enter God's home(Psa. 84:1-2), and a single day there is better than 1000 elsewhere(v10). Our true identity will be revealed when a white stone with our new name is given to us in Heaven(Rev. 2:17).
What is the eternal perspective? It involves setting your mind on things above(Col. 3:2), particularly when life gets hard. We are told not to love this world as it is temporary(1 John 2:15-17). Material things are all temporary and sooner or later will be destroyed. The car you drive, the computer you use, the money you have in a safe will all in time decay or be destroyed one way or another. The eternal perspective involves remembering the suffering of this world is brief compared to the glory of God(Rom. 8:18). We should live by faith and not sight(2 Cor. 5:7), and we should set our eyes on what is unseen rather than seen(2 Cor. 4:18). Above all, believers must remember their citizenship is in Heaven(Phil 3:20).
Doesn't this make us no earthly good? Hardly. Believers invest in what is eternal and what truly matters. What we do in this life matters as we all will be judged by our actions. God still wants us to think about Heaven since it is described in Isaiah, Revelation and other books of the Bible.
Nothing is wrong with material things themselves. We should enjoy what we have as they are gifts from God. However, we must never be more devoted to them than God.
If you have trouble with eternal perspective, don't worry. It takes time and is a discipline. We will get distracted by the positive and negative of this world, but we must always remember the eternal.
What do we do until we get to Heaven? As the apostle Paul said, we should press ahead to the goal of attaining the prize for which God has called us for(Phil. 3:13-14). As long as we are alive, we still have work to do.
We have to realize life doesn't end when we die. In fact, it's just beginning. What we do in this life affects us in ways big and small for eternity.
Last updated 8/26/2011