We can “believe” in eternity, but to what extent have we really agreed with the world that eternity is only relevant after this life? Eternity is not only an endless time frame; it is first and foremost a qualitative thing that is available now. When we begin to see all our moments in the context of eternity, we will bring to those moments a gravity that we would not have had otherwise.” – Art Katz
What will I do this year or even next month? How will my family survive? How will I make ends meet?
As we enter this new year, these are questions that many people are asking themselves. Is there any way to live above all these temporary hardships and thrive amidst the stress and tension of life at the end of time? If the whole world groans and the pains of birth before the Lord’s return are coming closer, what can we do to survive? Is there any way to live victoriously?
What we may need is an eternal perspective that changes everything – how we see life, how we see our trials and how we live in the ordinary.
The truth is that we are prepared for eternity. God builds in us a character that will last forever. He is especially concerned about our character and motivations. The unique trials that each of us faces on earth are conceived by an eternal God who sees and knows everything. This is neither a mistake nor a coincidence. Of course, we make mistakes ourselves, but God can transform them all into good (Romans 8:28). He knows our advantages and disadvantages – our family background, our marriages, our education and everything that concerns us, even in the smallest details. He sees the good and bad circumstances we face. We must bear in mind that God sees everything in the eternal context, but we live in a world that wants everything now.
The world system is built on immediate satisfaction and life for the pleasures of the present. But if we lose the sense of eternity and do not see life in an eternal perspective, we lose everything that is important from God’s point of view. To apprehend eternity in this life is not only to anticipate a future pleasure, it is to appropriate a present reality.
The apostle Paul who’s our goodly example lived in the powerful reality of the eternal. It was a glorious and joyful reality, and it made a difference in everything he did. He saw beyond the things he suffered on earth. He was oppressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not desperate; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). Its trials (shipwreck, stoning, persecution, prison, and much more) were only slight and temporary afflictions. Why? Why? Paul had an eternal perspective and saw an eternal weight of glory as his reward. An eternal perspective changes everything. He said:
“That’s why we don’t lose courage. Even if our outer man perishes, the inner man renews himself day by day. For our slight affliction, which is only a moment, works for us a much greater and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is not seen is eternal” – (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
If we look at our lives now, how do we see our trials? Are they bulky, depressing, overwhelming, worthless and to be avoided at all costs? Or can we rise higher and see the eternal kingdom? It all depends on the view of the invisible and the eternal. Do we live as if we were a citizen of heaven or a citizen of earth? Do we bring the eternal dimension into our daily tasks and into the ordinary?
It is possible to live as if everything was charged with eternity. As believers, we are called to bring eternity into time, to bring down reality from heaven to earth. God wants us to deposit our treasures in heaven and live in the joy of being rewarded for everything we do for Jesus. Even giving a glass of cold water will not lose its reward when we do it for Jesus.
If we live as the world lives seeking to realize ourselves now, how are we different from those who do not know Christ? We live like simple men who have not tasted heaven and are blinded by the enemy’s seductive traps. We are trying to make the emptiness of this life our home. The whole world is in massive disappointment. Many of us continue to rearrange the furniture of our earthly life (endless purchases, multiple divorces, countless dependencies) without ever finding true satisfaction and joy. He cannot be found without Jesus.
The Bible says that we are strangers on earth and that we are looking for a city whose creator and builder is God – (Hebrews 11:10).
As we begin this new year, it is time to live up to our true heavenly vocation. True joy is only found in life for heaven, where the glitter of this world has lost its glamour and power. An eternal perspective changes everything. There is an incredible purity and simplicity in the knowledge of Christ that is much greater than anything this world has to offer. But we can so easily get lost (2 Corinthians 11:3).
As believers, we must know that this message about the eternal. The urgency that surrounds us requires our attention. We can no longer say that what is happening in the world is just a bad dream. This is the time when the Lord asks us to respond to our true call. He wants us to get rid of the lies and be everything He wanted us to be at this time. He wants us to focus on things from above. Only then can He really use us to the maximum for His glory. With an eternal perspective:
We can be really happy even when everything around us is falling apart.
We can rise with a new perspective that will make the lost world aware.
Our lives can burn with eternity and purpose.
It is an invitation for all of us to enter a new dimension of being: we must evaluate all our earthly activities in an eternal perspective. It is time to live for heaven and reduce our lives to what will be of eternal value. Joy is not found in commitment without enthusiasm, but when we go all the way to the end for God. I evaluate everything I do. In light of Christ’s judgment seat at the end of the age, Mike Bickle often told our staff at IHOPKC:
“Lord, shock me now! “Show me the areas of my life that need to be changed before this last day.”
Four years ago, my life changed dramatically in an instant. Running to answer my doorbell in order to get a new computer to write on, I slipped on my step from above and fell right down the stairs, landing at the bottom in a pile. My husband quickly took me to the emergency room and I found myself in the hospital with a broken wrist and heel. I was in a wheelchair for months with a cast on my foot and leg, and one on my arm. From a human point of view, this made no sense. There have been months of recovery where I couldn’t do anything!
Meanwhile, I had a lot of time to think. I’ve been thinking about life. I thought about what was important. I thought of eternity. Through this unfortunate circumstance, God transformed personal tragedy and loss into blessing and joy, because He gave me an eternal perspective that changed everything.
It is time for us to change our perspective and look for what is above. It is time for us to live in the light of eternity.
Every time we bless another, every time we do not complain, every time we turn another cheek and stop talking badly, we drop our treasures in heaven and we will be rewarded. God conforms us to his image, and we will not be disappointed. Let us see our eternal reward in every act of kindness and sacrifice we make, great or small. Everything on earth is preparation for the coming age. We have an eternal destiny. Let us learn to live a joyful life in the light of this reality.
“If then you have risen with Christ, seek that which is above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Think of things from above, not the things of the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you will also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).