When a Hollywood actor was asked why he had married and divorced several times, he replied that he could not imagine spending his entire life with only one partner. How could he know that there was not someone else more interesting, more fun, or better suited to him?
Behind the thoughts of this actor is the idea that this life and this world are all there is. All that matters is cramming as many experiences as possible into a limited amount of time. All concerns about hurting other people or offending God must be cast aside. Life is governed by the fear of missing out on something. This view of life is hardly new, yet is seems to be growing ever more common. People increasingly talk and live like agnostics who expect nothing — and apparently fear nothing — beyond the grave.
This view of life and the world has made modern western man worse than a pagan idolator. The one who bows down before an idol of wood or stone is living in darkness, not knowing the true God. Since he doesn’t have God’s Word, his ideas of right and wrong may be faulty. But his belief in a god who will reward good and punish evil will often keep him from acting on his evil desires. His conduct is at least limited by fear. But the man who believes in no god and no afterlife is limited by nothing by force; he will do whatever he thinks he can get away with. He may well desert his wife, mistreat his child, cheat his neighbor, unhindered by fear.
A Joyful Eternity Ahead!
The risen and living Savior has freed us from a selfish and self-destructive life. By dying for our sins Jesus revealed the futility of trying to find happiness and satisfaction by fulfilling the desires of the flesh. He showed us that those things are works of death that end in death. By rising to life Jesus won for us eternal life. We don’t have to spend our life scratching and clawing, trying to pack everything we can into the few years we have, for we have an eternity of perfect joy ahead of us. We don’t have to take anything from anyone in order to have something good for ourselves; Christ has given us eternal life as a gift and in the Gospel offers it to everyone.
Because of our focus on the life and world to come, we Christians are often accused of despising and neglecting this life and this world. Far from it. We are the only ones capable of fully appreciating and making the best use of our life here. We recognize that this life is crucial — that it is a time of grace, given by God to repent and believe in His Son. We know that the time entrusted to us is a precious resource, to be used wisely to serve God who gives it.
Though we know all of this, we must confess that the world still has its attraction for us. Because we have the flesh, the world looks like a place to stay rather than a place to pass through. But it only looks good when considered by itself. It can’t stand comparison with the place that Jesus has gone to prepare for us.
So when this world looks good, and you are tempted to make it your home, compare it with what Jesus has promised — a world without death, sorrow, or pain (Rev. 21:4).
Now that’s a place to stay.
— Pastor John Klatt