Friday, February 20, 2009

Living with Eternity in mind

I've been asking myself a simple question lately: What am I living for? I think it's because there's something about all the turmoil in this world that makes me wonder how much of my life is focused on things that can't be shaken. I want to live for things that last, not for things that crumble. I want to get life from things that really matter, not from things for which I'll slap my credit card down with gusto. I want to be pursuing things that count for eternity rather than some flashy thing that may be exciting for a moment, but then amounts to nothing more than a nice little puff of smoke when the day is done.

That's the crux of what I'm wrestling with lately... I want to live with eternity in mind. Thinking about eternity changes everything. It changes my view of life. It changes how I view my CD collection. It changes what I think of fashions and gadgets. It changes my definition of successful or productive. It changes how I see my neighbour.

Jesus told a story about a very successful man who had filled his barns with goods and said to himself, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come. Take your ease. Eat, drink and be merry!" But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your soul is required of you. And now who will own what you have accumulated?" Jesus then said, "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:16-21)

To be "rich toward God" has eternity in mind. It means to be rich in the things that matter to God. Jesus is warning us here that it's foolish to be preoccupied in pursuing the temporal and material things of this world rather than on accumulating a treasure in heaven that will never fail.

John Piper describes it this way... "being 'rich toward God' means looking Godward for heavenly wealth. It means 'taking your ease' in him, finding your security in him. And it means using your money in such a way that enlarges the barn of your joy in heaven, not the barn of your comfort on earth. God gives us money on earth in order that we may invest it for dividends in heaven."

What I'm asking boils down to this: Life is short. Compared to eternity, life on this earth is very short. I'm going to die one day and I don't know when. So am I living my brief life on this earth in a way that counts for the eternity that follows?

As morbid as it sounds, when I drive past cemeteries, it's not unusual for me to consider that I'm going to be in the ground one day. All that I'm doing with my life will come to an end. My CD collection will mean nothing to me then. All my books? Someone else will get them. So what am I pursuing that will still have significance when I enter eternity in heaven?

Two vital things are mentioned in this passage of Luke 12. First, in Luke 12:8-9, Jesus explains that everyone on this earth who acknowledges who He truly is will later be acknowledged by Jesus in heaven. But whoever denies who Jesus is will be denied by Jesus in heaven. That is of foremost importance. But Luke 12 tells us a second thing about how to live for eternity, and it's an implication of actually acknowledging Jesus as Lord. Jesus says, "Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with wallets that do not grow old and will have no holes in them so that you will have a treasure in heaven that will not fail and where no thief can steal it and no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:33-34).

I don't see this as an edict to make ourselves poor by giving all we have to the poor. I believe God wants to materially bless His people. Jesus is simply teaching us not to make such blessings our treasure, but rather to handle those blessings with the same generous spirit that God has expressed to us. As Frank Stirk writes in PK's magazine, "Seven", God measures success not by how much we earn, but by our willingness to part with it in order to bless others. That is how we can live so that we'll be rich toward God for an eternity in heaven, and a blessing to others while we remain here on this earth. And that is what I want to live for.

© 2009 by Ken Peters

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