Have you noticed there is very little talk nowadays about heaven or about leaving this old world behind? Instead, we are bombarded with messages on how to use our faith to acquire more things. “The next revival,” said one well-known teacher, “will be a financial revival. God is going to pour out financial blessing on all believers.”
Any message about death bothers us. We try to ignore even thinking about it and think that those who discuss it are morbid. Occasionally we will talk about what heaven must be like, but most of the time the subject of death is taboo.
What a stunted concept of God’s eternal purposes! No wonder so many Christians are frightened by the thought of death. The truth is, we are far from understanding Christ’s call to forsake the world and all its entanglements. He calls us to come and die—and to die without building memorials to ourselves. To die without worrying how we should be remembered. Jesus left no autobiography—no headquarters complex—no university or Bible college. He left nothing to perpetuate his memory but the bread and the wine.
How different the first Christians were. Paul spoke much about death. In fact, our resurrection from the dead is referred to in the New Testament as our blessed hope. But nowadays, death is considered an intruder that cuts us off from the good life we have become accustomed to. We have so cluttered our lives with material things, we are bogged down. We can no longer bear the thought of leaving our beautiful homes, our lovely things, our charming sweethearts. We seem to be thinking, “To die now would be too great a loss. I love the Lord—but I need time to enjoy my real estate. I married a wife. I’ve yet to prove my oxen. I need more time.”
What is the greatest revelation of faith, and how is it to be exercised? You will find it in Hebrews: “These all died in faith…and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth…. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13 and 16).
C.S. Lewis states, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
You see, if we are so fixated on heaven, we will long for the desires which align with heaven’s, therefore living to glorify heaven and give glory to it’s creator. Likewise, if we are fixated upon earth, and seek desires of ourselves, we strive only to glorify our personal actions and what we think of ourselves and show other people about ourselves.
By avoiding the topic of death we often neglect to give glory to what is promised after death, and by doing so, we shift the focus to living our lives lavishly, instead of diving into the true purposes of what living this life is supposed to point to.
May we strive to make known the glories of heaven and the promise of everlasting life, but only after we embrace the concept, and reality of death (whether physically through rebirth in heaven or metaphorically with dying to our selfish desires in order that God may provide us a vision and a promise bigger and more everlasting than anything we could ever imagine).