Heavenly Realities vs Earthly Realities
I’ve been thinking more about how we often let the cultural/societal values of our day warp our views more than scriptural values, even for the Christian. God declares certain truths over His people, yet we may still largely operate as if this life is all there is, or at least holds more value than the eternal one.
Many examples come to mind, but here’s a few from scripture: “His (Job’s) wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. (Job 2:9-10)
Elkanah her husband would say to her, "Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?" (1 Samuel 1:8, on Hannah’s barrenness)
But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die." But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?" (Jonah 4:9-11)
Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." (Exodus 4:10-13)
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked. "Don’t be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17)
But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don’t you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:40-43)
We are stubborn creatures of habit; all too often relying on our short-sighted physical eyes over the eternally-lasting “eyes of faith”. We lean towards trusting man’s opinion over the clear declarations from God’s Word. Yet God delights in honoring those who make these decisions of faith, choosing with hope, against the pressures around us, His Will over even our own.
Think of the values of our day: “Blood is thicker than water” they say, prioritizing familial bonds. Jesus responded in Matthew 12:48-50, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." Although we have God-given responsibilities towards our families, we also must abide by the eternal realities, considering our God-chosen, spiritual families! Those who are in Christ have the same Master and Lord, and this is not understood by the outside world – but how often do we make those decisions that minimizes the church’s influence in our lives?
I close with one section of scripture to meditate on these things: from 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:5 It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
How, then, shall we live in the here and now? I trust that we will move forward with the “eyes of faith”.