I love icing. If you hand me a cupcake, I’m going to break off the bottom cake part, eat it by itself, and basically just enjoy the blob of icing on top. I’m the same way with cake. I’ll eat the cake portion first by carefully eating all the way up to the icing just so I can save the icing for last and get the full taste of it with as little cake as possible. The problem with doing this is that I’ll often miss how good the cake portion actually is because I’m so focused on getting to the icing… Anybody want some cake yet?
So what does all this cake and icing talk have to do with anything significant?
When it comes to our faith, Heaven looks really good. Especially on those bad days, it’s very easy to long for Heaven as an escape from the pain, evil, and brokenness of this world. The descriptions of Heaven found in Scripture give us hope of what’s to come. Philippians 3:20 even says “Our citizenship is Heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ!”
However, if we allow ourselves to sleepwalk through this life (the cake) just to simply get to Heaven when we die, (the icing) we will greatly miss out on the dreams Jesus has dreamed up for us. While our future home should be something we look forward to, we have to remember that this life is still good and beneficial. Jesus actually spoke of the Kingdom of God and how to live on this earth more than He talked about Heaven. Yes, He said some amazing things about Heaven, but He seemed to continually have an emphasis on the present.
At the same time, when we fixate ourselves too much on “going to heaven when we die” we will actually find ourselves presenting only half the gospel to others. The gospel is about eternal life, but that eternal life begins with following Jesus in the here and now. Our faith can easily become all about what happens we die instead of what happens as we live, work, and play. As a result, this becomes our message and presentation to others. Have you ever heard someone ask a question such as “Do you want to go to hell when you die?” I don’t think anyone in their right mind would choose hell if given the option, but people today are much more interested in the here and now rather than the one day at some point in the future when they die. Therefore, we can’t share our faith with a simple “when you die” perspective. Perhaps this is why Jesus came, took on flesh, and showed us how to LIVE THIS LIFE!
By no means do I want to devalue Heaven. I can’t wait to spend eternity with my Savior, but He has me here, now, and I need to embrace every moment to the fullest. As Christ-followers, we cannot long for Heaven so much that we become passive to God’s will for us right now, today, tomorrow, and each day He fills us with breath in our lungs. If I look to Heaven at the expense of this life, I’m putting my preferences ahead of Jesus’ mission and purpose in my life. In some ways, it’s a selfish focus to have in my life. Paul probably said it best in Philippians 1:21-25 when he said…
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.