Shifting to an Eternal Perspective
When I was a child, I often heard older people speak of heaven with a sense of familiarity. I marveled that they could talk of a place they had never seen, yet speak with such joy and intimacy. I came to realize their growing desire for heaven was fueled by life changes such as:
- Aging bodies
- Loss of loved ones
- Growing intimacy with the Lord
Heading to Destruction
While these reasons are understandable, the state of our current world also seems to magnify our longing for heaven. Pandemics, racial injustice, radical violence, sex trafficking of women and children, terrorism, and hostility toward Christ-followers are just a few of the many circumstances proclaiming that our world is racing headlong to destruction.
As the anniversary of a significant loss in my life approaches next week, I also find myself shifting to a more eternal perspective. Possessions have lost their luster. Even some experiences don’t provide as much joy as they once did. It’s not that I don’t enjoy my life. I’ve simply come to realize that it doesn’t make sense to set eternal affections on temporary things.
That’s how the apostle Paul was able to recount the persecutions he experienced (II Corinthians 4), but then conclude, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord”
(II Corinthians 5:8 NIV).
What is real?
This world is all we know and so we can’t imagine anything more real than the life we now live. Yet, as Paul described, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (I Corinthians 13:12 NIV). These are the shadowlands, seemingly vibrant only because we don’t have anything to compare them to.
But as true as this is, it still does not absolve us of being “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16) in a corrupt and dark world. As Pastor Michael Thedford once said, “This world is not our home, but it is our responsibility.” This is not our eternal destination. This is merely a bus stop on the way to our final destination.
Still, even though Christians are citizens of heaven, as long as we are here, we have a purpose. Salt does no good if it remains in the saltshaker. And light is useless if it is hidden under a barrel. As the prophet Micah wrote, “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NIV).
This world may be temporary, but those living in it have the opportunity to choose their eternal destiny. It’s up to every Christ-follower to reflect the One to whom we belong. If what we’re occupied with does not have an ultimate eternal impact, then what’s the point?
As I think about who I’ve lost, the pull toward heaven is that much stronger. I’m shifting to an eternal perspective, and my purpose here is for eternal impact.
What about you?