Shouldn’t we long for Heaven?
While it’s true we are here on this earth to live and proclaim Christ with our mouths and our lives, to possibly suffer trials and difficulties as well as enjoy the blessings of God for the Glory of our God, we are also here to resist sin by the power of the Holy Spirit and trust that Christ’s perfect work in his life and death are working in and through us.
But isn’t it that final destination that should be our ultimate desire? Shouldn’t being with him, directly, personally, be the final desire of every believer? A place where we might put aside our struggles and insecurities, or actually have them put aside for us as fully and completely realized new creations, unshackled by the shadow of understanding that we have of him in this world into a full revelation of who he is in the next?
So, can we be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good? Is that true? Can we be so focused on heaven that we don’t, or can’t, do anything good here on earth?
Let’s think about this for a minute. What does it mean to be heavenly minded? Do we just think about getting to heaven and nothing else? Does it mean we are trying to please God or are we being selfish? If we are heavenly minded, do we treat people poorly on earth or simply ignore them to protect our own little circle of influence as we wait in grateful anticipation for his return? And if we do, are we really being heavenly minded? Are we even Christians? Is there a misconception being drawn from the idea that being heavenly minded means we can’t do any good here on earth?
It doesn’t seem to jibe. Especially, when we are told in the same vein to “keep your eyes on Jesus.” I mean, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself” is as heavenly minded as you can get. It could be as close to a glimpse into the future kingdom of heaven as you can get. It’s also something, that as much as we strive for it, we will never fully realize because of our lifelong struggle with sin. But by God’s grace he always encourages us to follow him imperfectly until we’re with him perfectly in heaven.
Some new thinkers in Christian circles will tell you that doing all these things brings heaven to us (within). I had a friend, a former youth pastor, who emphatically holds to idea that heaven is on earth now—in what we do, how we act, and what we say. While it is true, to some degree, that we display the Glory of God in and through our lives, the part that worried me most is that he would not admit, agree, concede, or acknowledge that Jesus died and rose again for the world. He would not admit that there was more. He danced carefully and respectfully around the issue, claiming some deeper secret knowledge in the text of the Scripture, convinced if we do good, we have heaven within ourselves.
Another man I had the pleasure of conversing with, claimed he was a Christian for quite a while (and was still a Christian), but came to the conclusion that Christ did not rise from the dead—he doesn’t believe in any zombie Savior walking around. Instead, Jesus was just a good moral teacher and leader with good examples to follow, and then he died. He insisted by following these examples we can create heaven on earth with our actions and our lives. When I tried to tell him, with care and concern, that he was apart from God because he did not believe in this fundamental truth of Jesus, a mutual friend and fellow churchgoer came to his defense.
So whether new age ideas (heaven is within us) or humanistic view (we create heaven here), there is an infiltration within the Church as a whole to remove the idea of reaching for heaven, looking to heaven, setting our minds on things above. Instead, we are told to deal with the now, do what you can here, serve God by serving others. These things may be correct to an extent, but we miss the point and are only allowing ourselves a partial understanding of God.
There is also another misconception that being heavenly minded means that we are in deeper relationship with God through all the tools he gives us to draw nearer to Him. Through prayer, reading, fasting, and meditation (on his Word), we do commune more closely with him. Except, if that’s all we do, we again miss the point.
There is a road upward towards God that includes all of these things, but the road forward on the ground we must take as well. This road leads us in contact with others—with people hurting and in pain that need to know about God’s great mercy and grace. Now, when I say “must,” I mean that the gospel of Christ and the salvation it provides should inspire such a gratitude within us that it spurs us on to know him (God) more.
Knowing God more, should spur us on to serve others and present the Gospel to them. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not advocating a formula. This relationship with God is a struggle. We will not do ANY of these things, whether “upward” toward him or “forward” toward others with perfect application (my own hand is raised high first). Responding to the Gospel leads us towards these things and the highs and lows that come with it, all in the course of a normal life lived. But to beat a dead horse, again, its starts (and ends) with the Gospel.
The Gospel is that we reach towards him because he reached down to us first. In the Virgin birth, in the life Jesus lead, the death he suffered, and in the pinnacle of all of this—his resurrection from death. This life, death, and resurrection both paid for all our sins and gave us a righteous life to present to God. As a result, we literally have residing in us the presence of the Holy Spirit. This trusting in Christ that God supernaturally plants within us, results in faith in him and makes us citizens of heaven. That makes this world temporary for us. Denying the resurrection, believing that Jesus was just an example to follow, and that he is now dead and a rotting corpse in the grave, removes the power and honestly the grace and mercy that comes with following him as Savior. It is no surprise that people who dance around the subject or outright deny the deity of Jesus, say heaven is within us or on earth as we make it. If we don’t believe that Jesus is the resurrected Savior of the world, all we have left is ourselves and this world and what’s in it.
Frankly, these options are not terribly encouraging.
Knowing that God reached down to us in the form of Christ Jesus, we have hope for something more, something greater, and that is heaven and, more specifically, residing in heaven with our Savior. It is in this reaching towards heaven that we know him better. It is in this reaching towards heaven, that we are trusting in the salvation and reconciliation we have with God. It is in this looking to heaven that encourages and reminds us that we only have to endure trials, difficulties, and struggles with sin only for a season (however long that season lasts)—God continues to be with us in all of that while we are here. It’s because of that hope of heaven that we gratefully, worshipfully, though imperfectly, live a life that honors him and loves and serves others.
So if we are truly “heavenly minded,” we ARE the most earthly good we could be, because we are drawing nearer to him, serving others, loving others, preaching the gospel, leading others in faith.
So be as heavenly minded as you want!