Friday, April 18, 2008

Why Heaven May Be More Important Than We Think

I was in a Bible study, when the discussion turned toward the question of what would we share with someone who has nothing. Someone brought up situations in African areas, like in the Sudan, where people are suffering. They made the statement that she couldn't image what to share with them. It seemed to her that discussing the Gospel with them would be fruitless. It would sound so "pie-in-the-sky" that it wouldn't be relevant to them.

It ain't so simple.

I said that I felt the opposite would be more accurate. In the Scriptures it says that the poor are blessed with a rich faith. (James 2:5) And Jesus even said that it was hard for the rich to enter into the Kingdom. (Matthew 19:23) Not because it is barred for those with plenty, but that the rich find it so hard not to be divided. In fact, our culture tends to believe that faith is the result of being well-satisfied and materially blessed. We believe it is easier to believe if we have all that we need and want. But that just isn't true.

Jesus said that we need to be on our "guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15) Do we believe that this is true? I wonder if we are too affluent to believe it. In fact, most people I know say they don't have enough.

How much we have doesn't matter.

My point isn't about the deceitfulness of wealth. Although it is. My point isn't about the virtues of poverty, because Scripture doesn't honor poverty, but calls for others to help the poor. My point isn't about staying away from becoming rich. God doesn't care unless our hope is in our wealth.

My point is that those who suffer in this life, value heaven more than those who are comfortable in this life. Think about it. We don't talk very much about being aliens and strangers in the world very much anymore. We don't talk much about eternal matters like the warning of hell and the promise of heaven. We don't encourage each other with the hope of heaven. It sounds so trite. We aren't encouraged by talk of heaven when we go through hard times or witness evil. We want something more substantial.

Blessed are the poor.

But people who live in areas where poverty and suffering is the norm, all these things are embraced. These people will travel for miles, sell all they have, and risk their lives just to read a Bible—which holds to key to hope. I can't tell you the last time I've had a conversation where heaven was used to encourage one another except from my wife and best friend.

My prayer and my hope is that we, as American Christians, will reclaim the true hope and not be so divided anymore. Lord, help us.


  1. Amen, and thank you. Comfort leads to putting down roots in this world, which leads to difficulty in imagining leaving it all behind. You've made very powerful points that go right to the heart.

  2. Thank you for your comments.

    It is hard in our culture not to be fooled by the trappings of this life. I know, because it's hard for me. But the past year of enduring huge changes in my life, suddenly, the hope of heaven has become more important to me than in a long while.