Living Out Eternal & Temporal Realities
Luke 12:13-23 Someone in the crowd said to him (Jesus), "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ "Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes."
I believe that one of the hardest tasks for any Christian, is learning how to operate under both the eternal and temporal realities of life. Knowing that you are going to die sooner or later; how does that affect what you think about and do now? Is it pushed out of thought and mind, or does it impact behavior? If eternal realities were revealed by God to you, would it change your everyday life, like time, money, friendships, education, church & service? What if you could take some of that into the afterlife?
A primary mark of maturity is in choosing the greater, long-term benefit over a short-term benefit. A toddler, soon after learning to communicate, makes demands of his/her parent to meet the immediate wants and feelings: “I want that (candy/toy/etc).” It is a difficult task for the parent to teach a child to look ahead! And it is increasingly difficult for a church or pastor to reach an increasingly self-focused and narcissistic world, that has become accustomed to immediate gratification with the eternal Word of God. Even Christians see it creep in to their lives in the subtlest of ways, not always recognizing the “good” distractions which keep them from prayer and time spent with their Creator! (Even as I write, I receive phone and email “alerts” which take my mind away from the eternal)
The apostle Paul radically changed his life upon encountering the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus. He reflects upon the values he had versus his new course of direction with these words in
Philippians 3:7-8 “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ”.
Paul changed...but is that mindset limited to just apostles, missionaries, clergy or the “super-spiritual”? Not if the same eternal/temporal realities apply to you and me! The question is, do you really believe the warnings and promises of Jesus, as well as His identity? IF He is the Son of God, who came from heaven, then I should take Him seriously! Jesus said in Matthew 24 that His 2nd coming would be like when the flood came and destroyed the world, like in the days of Noah, when people were “partying”.
Paul wrote in 1Thessalonians 5:2 “ for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." I know many young people who died, and also those who brushed very close to it! So why do so many live, trying to ignore that reality, when we can actually make an impact ON it? Why do we hold on so tightly to things that we can’t take with us after death, and pay so little attention to the people and the spiritual formation that we CAN? How much of my resources should be spent protecting and insuring those fading, crumbling things, and how should I respond if I do lose them? If I claim to love someone, shouldn’t I care more about their eternal place before God, than those things that can be “considered rubbish”? Just a few questions I’m asking you as well as myself. We already take many risks, and much for granted, every time we get into a car and travel at 70 mph! Following Christ is about weighing the eternal over the temporal and taking the right risks in life. Therefore:
I pledge to increasingly operate out of these realities in my life, relating to God, Others, and Stuff:
Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars— their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."
Re 22:12 "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”
Hold loosely to that which doesn’t last. Hold tightly to loved ones whose eternity may depend on your service to God. Cling with all your might on Jesus Christ. Death and its effects will soon be no more.