“If then, you have received Christ Jesus your Lord, seek the things that are above, where Christ is at the right hand of the throne of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
How much of our mental and physical energy is in the frustrating details of this world? We worry about what we will eat & drink, what we will wear, what people think of us, our jobs, our health, our status, our future…. Things that matter, but matter very little. This is the world in which we live, and to not think of the details is impossible, but to dwell continually in them alone is an exercise in futility at best and horribly depressing at worse. It is once said that the men and women who did the most in this world were those who thought most about the next. How wonderfully accurate that must be knowing that all our efforts to preserve, redeem, and heal what we most long for and love will always fall depressingly short. But there is a redeemer and healer who has never fallen short, who is infinite in perfection, and who has promised restoration of all things good.
He has given us a glimpse of perfection, each human made in the image of God has a longing for Eden and a longing for the New Jerusalem—the problem is we are stuck in between these two cities, in a place of beautiful torment known as (present) earth. The fact that there is such beauty makes the obvious tarnishing of it all the more loathsome. The fact that I see green leaves and beautiful flowers makes the inevitable fact that my plants will crumble, die, and be covered with icy sludge all the more woeful. The fact that there is vast grandeur in gazing and swimming in the oceans makes the tsunami’s killing all the more heart-wrenching. The fact that water and sun which sustain life can cause floods, drowning, sunburn and heatstroke creates a deeper ache than if they were simply enemies. Our world has turned on us. And yet it is we who are entirely responsible for the frustrating tension that drives each one of us who is alone with his thoughts for more than a few moments to cry, “Vanity, Vanity!”
And yet I am confident that a God who elicits such soul thirst is not only capable of satisfying it, but longs to fill us with what we think are unmet desires, but which I suspect are more accurately unfulfilled NEEDS which we try to fill with facades. We don’t want love, we need it—so we seek relationships, social media, or sex. We don’t want security, we NEED it—so we see prestigious jobs, wealth, or We don’t want approval, we NEED it—so we post our accomplishments, resumes, and How much time we waste when we could simply run and cling to the very source of love himself, the only eternal security possible, and the one who might look upon us in perfect approval of his son. If only we not only knew that, but remembered it and lived in light of it!
What type of lives ought we to live in light of the gospel??? How could we ever worry about a simple detail knowing that each and every deed done for self-preservation will be burned up and destroyed and yet each and every one of them done in sincere effort to glorify God will live on forever? If we truly believed that God is who he says he is, has done what he has said he’s done, and will do what he promises—and there is no reason to think otherwise considering his track record—we would be the happiest people in existence living in a beautiful tension, yet possessing an eternal joy that surpasses circumstances. This truly is joy unspeakable—to know that everything done for Jesus will be preserved for all eternity and there can be no loss, to know that all things beautiful will be restored to heights we’ve never imagined, to know that all that is ugly and warped will melt away in fire, and all that will be left is the purified thoughts, actions, and prayers of those who spent the whole of their lives looking to something beyond themselves. Oh that we could only stop thinking about ourselves—our desires, our worries, our needs, even our sin—for a moment! That we could instead intentionally fix our gaze on something greater than us….that we might turn our eyes unto Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And watch the things of earth being to grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.
“If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next….Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in:’ aim at earth and you will get neither.”