Is this life important?
The Apostle Paul summarized some of his thoughts on life by saying, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 (NASB) This verse is sometimes interpreted to mean that this life isn’t important and all that is important is heaven. I talk to Christians about heaven and I sometimes get the impression that some of them would prefer to just skip this life and go there now.
Paul didn’t suggest that life is unimportant. He didn’t suggest that we stop caring about this life. His words were clearly an encouragement regarding this life and the next. Life for Paul was all about Christ in the things that he believed, did and said. He believed that his physical death would bring forth an even greater life in heaven in the full presence of Christ. Paul’s words about this life and the next should give us hope about both.
God is the creator of life. He created the heavens and the earth. He created the animals on land and in the sea. He created mankind beginning with Adam and Eve. It can’t be overstated that our lives are a gift from our creator. God created us to live for him and to be filled with joy. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
What about the next life?
God’s word declares that heaven will be indescribably amazing and better than anything we can experience on earth. As Paul declared in the new testament, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him…” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Our lives are so short in comparison to the time we will spend in heaven. However, the glory and eternity of heaven should not diminish the importance of our lives on earth. God never intended for us to give up on this life and only care about the next life. He wants us to care about this life, while looking forward to the next. Life can be difficult and God told us that we will face persecution in this life, but he never told us to give up.
We have a tendency to over correct our thinking when we are uncomfortable with the belief system of others. For example, if someone thinks that this life is better than heaven or that this life is all there is, we want to help them understand otherwise. That is a good thing. But in an effort to do so, we downplay this life in order to make heaven sound better. We think if we tell someone how bad this life is, heaven will seem like a better alternative and help them look forward to it. The truth is, this life doesn’t need to be sold short in order to make heaven look appealing.
Why can’t we have both?
Should we be excited about this life or the next? Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” We should take more time to look at the blessings in this life as the miracles that they are.
There are those who don’t have any hope in heaven and only care about what this life has to offer. We should want to help those people see that there is more than just this life, but not by downplaying it. God gave us this life. We should treat it like the gift that it is. Live for Christ in obedience to his word and look forward to heaven. God gave us this life and he offers us eternal life in heaven. We can have both.