We live in turbulent times!
Are we one of those people whose philosophy of life is to focus on this world and let the next world take care of itself – we’ll face that bridge when we come to it ? or are we one of those who focuses on the next world and thereby let’s the things of this world take care of them-self?
The Christian position should surely be the latter, seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6.33). However, although at times we think of the issues of eternity, don’t we all much of the time simply live in the day-to-day present, immersed in the issues, troubles and joys of this life? which then raises the question, is there then any practical difference between a believer and a non-believer?
Well that’s quite a sobering question – the witness of the church is primarily through what Christians do and say. Are we hiding our lights under a bushel, or are our lights in fact flickering out? The challenge when I was a teenager was, if you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?!!
We’re living is an atheistic culture and it’s important that we don’t let our lives become one of practical atheism – there is such a thing as vaguely admitting a statement to be true (or even passionately admitting a statement is true) and yet not receiving it so as to act upon it. This is practical unbelief. Let’s all pray in the words of the boy’s father in Mark 9, Lord I believe, help Thou my unbelief!
Personally, I must concede that I’m not as visible or as good as I should be in living out the Christian life. Isn’t that true for all of us? But even if the world can’t see much difference, perhaps no practical difference at all, that does not mean we’re the same as the world.
In the next life there’s a difference certainly! For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Matthew 16.26) But, also in this life – our whole view of the world, of life and everything in it, is different. At our deepest level, what prompts us to do things or not to do things is different. We may do the same or similar things as other people, but our rationale or motive is not the same – and God looks not at the outward appearance of our actions, but into our hearts. But it’s not just our motivation or driving force that’s different, it’s also our interpretation of life and the events of this life – our whole perspective on life is different; nay further, we actually are ourselves different.
As an illustration, it’s interesting to compare the Christian life to the life of an expatriate. We as a family lived for over 2 years in Brussels and then more recently for 2 years in Amsterdam. In many ways we were like the locals – we made friends with them, we lived in their community, we used their doctors and health service, we worked with them, we socialised with them and we played with them. We saw it as an opportunity and we enjoyed it and lived it to the full.
However, we were never Belgians or Dutch people. In many respects we were like them, but we were British and our home-land was here. There’s an affinity between expatriates – we’re all in the same boat, we know we’re here for a while, but that it’s only temporary and that at some point we’ll move-on. Sometimes we’re given notice that out term here is coming to an end, but sometimes for some reason in our organisation something happens and we get called away suddenly with effectively no notice at all.
As Christians we’re living in the world, but we’re not of the world – we’re children of heaven, children of God. Our time here is temporary and we know that at some point we’ll be called home. Is it then such a bad thing if some-one gets called home earlier, maybe much earlier, than we ourselves?
Well not for them, assuming they are going to heaven! The problem is for us left behind and having to carry-on living here without them. But our days left on earth are less than what they were and the fact that someone has caught an earlier train or plane is actually cause for rejoicing. Our turn will come soon enough and we will follow-on as in the words of David when his first son by Bathsheba, when just a few months old, died, I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me (2 Samuel 12.23)
In the mean-time, we still have things to do for our Master here on earth. For some it may be showing the love of Christ in practical social, caring and charitable action. For some it may be the crucial role of praying, supporting and cheering. For some it may be awakening the people of our culture to the importance of eternal realities and the importance of where their plane or train ticket is going to take them!
But for all of us, we have the responsibility to take a stand in the current turmoil (which is going to be here for some time!) to what really matters in life – not money, possessions and grabbing after temporary advantage or status, but the faithfulness of God and life everlasting – life and people in relationship, with God and with each other, caring, helping and sharing.
When everything’s going well it’s easy to be happy (although we often aren’t! – the theological term is asleep!) However, in the months and years ahead we’re going to be tested. Let’s pray for God’s strength and faith – that we can rise above the problems of this world of ours, and by bringing an eternal perspective to bear and by the presence of His Spirit, we can look turmoil in the face with confidence in God and as true Christians showing the Love of Christ with Joy, with expectant Hope, and with Peace – not forgetting that God has given us life to enjoy – not just in the future in the next world, but in this world in the present as well.
Our belief in life after death
enables us to live and believe
in life before death