This is an oversimplification, but I believe the following statement is true: if Christians lived as if eternity were real, many of our problems would disappear.
Each week at church, you and I affirm our belief in heaven and hell, but there is a significant difference between our confessional theology and our functional living.
How often did you think of eternity last week, and how did it impact your decisions? If I’m honest, not very much. What about you?
Consequently, our lives are much more complicated than they need to be. Our struggles reveal more about our eternity amnesia than it does about the world around us.
Let’s consider some of the ways that forgetting about Forever complicates today:
1. We focus too much on self. God created us to live with more in view than just the present moment’s comfort, pleasure, and happiness. Add the fact that we are not in charge, we do not live in the center of the universe, and life moves by the will and purpose of Another! When we shrink our existence down to momentary wants, feelings, and needs, we’re fighting against God’s sovereign narrative and intended design for our joy.
2. We ask too much of people. If we try to make today our paradise, we unwittingly ask the people around us to provide that paradise for us. How tremendously unfair! They cannot give us the constant inner peace and satisfaction that we can only ever experience in eternity. It will only end in disappointment, frustration, conflict, and division.
3. We are too controlling and fearful. At some point, everyone will feel like life is passing them by; unfulfilled dreams are inescapable. Instead of chasing them in futility, view them as alerts that God designed us for another world. If you live with the coming world in view, these will be gentle (but still painful) reminders.
4. We question the goodness of God. If we don’t understand God’s eternal narrative, we will doubt his character. God’s promises only reach their fulfillment in the world that is to come; if we forget, we will feel that we have been hit with a divine bait and switch. Life in a fallen world is enormously more complicated when you don’t have confidence that you have a loving Father.
5. We are more disappointed than thankful. Many of us are unthankful, not because God has failed us, or we have suffered much, or the people around us have been particularly challenging to live with, but because we approach life hoping that it will deliver to us things that we can only experience in eternity. Grumbling people don’t have much joy and miss out on the gifts God provides today!
6. We lack motivation and hope. When life inevitably disappoints, you will either lose enthusiasm and optimism, or remember that God’s plan is marching toward a moment when he will restore all that the fall has broken. Yes, life is hard, and you will experience things you never imagined, but eternity fills you with a reason to get up in the morning and press on.
Do you want to experience life to the fullest today, as you wait for paradise? Remember that today is never meant to make you complete—it’s a preparation for a final destination.
You are not living in the final chapter of the story. What is broken will be fixed, what has been bent will be straightened, and what has decayed will be restored. Eternity will give you a reason to continue, be thankful, and find joy, even when nothing right now seems as if it is working.
Paul David Tripp
1. How often did you think of eternity last week, and how did it impact your decisions?
2. Think of a God-honoring decision that you made recently because you remembered eternity. What might you have done differently had you neglected to consider Forever?
3. Which of the six reasons can you identify most with? How have you complicated your life recently because of it? Be specific.
4. Consider that same area. How can you practically live with heaven in view, and what difference might that make moving forward? What steps will you take today to remember eternity?
5. Do you want to be known as a thankful, joyful, motivated, and hopeful person? What difference will that make in your relationships with non-believing neighbors? How does living in light of eternity make you a better evangelist for the Gospel?