Friday, May 26, 2017

Living in Light of Eternity

Written to share with a group of Forever-minded homeschooling parents.  Shared with all.

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Forever

I used to be scared of the idea of eternity. I would think about it and imagine “when we've been there ten thousand years” that we would have “no less days to sing God's praise than when we first begun” and it SCARED me! As a little girl sitting in church, singing hymns that were far-too-slow for my tastes, I didn't really like the idea of FOREVER. I pictured myself Singing “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain” and casting my crown at Jesus's feet... Then picking it up so I could do it all over again? It just didn't make sense to me. I knew “Forever” was going to happen and I knew it was supposed to be this great thing; I just didn't really understand what it meant.

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Did you hear about the man who arrives at the pearly gates? The gate-keeper asks, "What's your Denomination?"
The man says, "Methodist."
The gate-keeper looks down his list and says, "Go to Room 24, but be very quiet as you pass Room 8."
Another man arrives at the pearly gates. "Denomination?"
"Lutheran."
"Go to Room 18, but be very quiet as you pass Room 8."
A third man arrives at the gates. "Denomination?"
"Presbyterian."
"Go to Room 11, but be very quiet as you pass Room 8."
The man says, "I can understand there being different rooms for different denominations, but why must I be quiet when I pass Room 8?"
The gate-keeper tells him, "Well, the Baptists are in Room 8, and they think they're the only ones here."

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We all have this idea of what eternity will be like... Some of of us embrace it; Some of us deny it; Some of us just don't really understand it.

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My hubby and I just came back from Greece. Near Athens, we saw many temples to different gods who were presumed, by Ancient Greeks, to have different benefits and characteristics - Zeus, Athena, Nike, Poseidon, Hephaistos, Aphaia, Apollo. And there were many other temples that we didn't go to see. The Ancient Greeks understood that there was something more... They didn't really understand it, but they tried.
Mars Hill (left), The Acropolis with the Temples to various Greek Gods (right)

While I was standing on Mars Hill (also known as the Areopagus) staring up at the Acropolis (home to several of these pagan structures), I was reminded that we all have this innate desire to worship. We know that there is something greater than ourselves. Even the Ancient Greeks and Romans knew this. Paul says to the Romans about these pagans:

Romans 1:19-23 ...what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

In Greece, these temples were the only way the ancient people knew to express this innate desire to worship. They knew there was a God and were trying to understand what that looked like for them. Their hearts understood that there was something more, but they didn't quite get it. We read the words Paul spoke while at the Areopagus in Acts 17:22-29

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

Again, in 2 Cor 6:16 he tells the Saved from among the group in Corinth that, WE are the temple of the living God.”

Once people understood who the One True God was, some of them became devout followers. But they still didn't fully understand what it meant. Some didn't believe in Forever – Resurrection, Life after death, Eternity.
Paul puts it to them this way in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19:
...if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

If all we're living for is success, comfort, and stature in this life, then our work is meaningless.
This present life is compared to a quick breath (Psalm 39:5), wispy smoke (Psalm 102:3), a vanishing mist (James 4:14), a blade of withering grass or a fading flower (1 Peter 1:24). It's over before we realize it. We were not simply created for this temporary life, but for Eternal life – For Forever!
So, while we can certainly find Joy in this life, we must choose to live in light of eternity. Our years and days and minutes and breaths need to be purposefully spent on preparing ourselves and those around us for eternity. We need to shine like stars in a depraved world (Philippians 2:15) and to be the aroma of Christ to both the saved and the perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15)

And this discontent that we feel when terrible things happen right now is simply a tug on our hearts for the eternal perfection that awaits us.

FOREVER is not my child-hood imaginings of an eternal life sentence to “Worship before the throne forever.”

FOREVER is a new Eden... It is Joy and Peace and Perfection and a Perfect relationship with God. It is each of us living as the people that God designed us to be. It is Beautiful and Good and Holy. It is imperishable and not subject to the current groanings and imperfections of this cursed world. And it it finally seeing God's face! (Rev 22:4)

And Forever is what we should be working towards and practicing right now.

Philippians 3:12-21 sums up living in light of FOREVER for me:

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
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Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Living a purposeful life, in light of forever, means being Paul to our younger disciples.

He says it in 1 Corinthians 11:1a as well: Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

As a homeschooling parent, Deut 6:4-9 is often on my heart:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

If we're living in light of eternity, the choices we make for ourselves and our families will look very different than the world's.

Colossians 3:23 tells us “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters...

My children are not working at their school work so that they can please me or get accolades or a good job or whatever world standard for SUCCESS is set before them. They are working at it because they trust that I am leading them in honouring God with our choices and giving Him glory. As they become more advanced in their schooling, they now marvel at the stunning order that God built into His Creation. It is good and edifying for our children to be taught about God's design for us and this planet where we live.

And it is good for our children to grow up to be productive people who can support themselves... Proverbs 12:11 reminds us that “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

Teaching our children how to be effectively functioning members of society is an important part of being a light in this dark world.

But beyond the curriculum and tests and grades, we need to be eternity-minded. We need to teach our children that this work that we're putting our all into for a moment is not meant to give us success according to the world's definition, but to enable us to better serve God.

Every prayer that I pray with my children includes a request that God would be honoured in our choices. We make choices about so many things without always thinking about honouring God... Choices about nourishment, curriculum, the way we treat each other, the way we help strangers, where - how and when we choose to worship. My prayer continues to be that God be honoured in ALL that we do.

And may our strivings, as homeschooling parents, continually direct our children to their God-given purpose – to bring Him honour and glory, Forever. May they make choices in light of who they are as Citizens of Heaven rather than who they are as Citizens of this World

1 Peter 4:7-11 says:
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

As my children grow into living out this purposeful Christian walk, I'll know that they are living in light of Eternity.

2 comments:

  1. NEVER tire of doing what is right.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Excellently penned, 2-of-3.

    ReplyDelete