Given a choice between heaven and this world many choose what they can see. They’d rather have the bird in the hand that 9 in the bush. This world and it’s promises seem tangible. And nothing is more appealing and trustworthy than what we can see and touch. We want to live life to the fullest here and now because tomorrow is unknown. Why deny yourself for life on some cloud when you can enjoy things here and now? We are realists and we go with what makes sense to us.
But let us unpack this realism. How much of this world really is in our hands? COVID has shown us more clearly than ever that we are just one pandemic away from want and disaster. One job loss from poverty. That all you need to bring you down to your knees is a disease. Add economic breakdown and our realism changes. You are one serious illness away to hating the offer of this world. And the reality of this world is that you can’t have this world. You can only lease its temporarily joys before nature rudely interrupts you.
YOLO philosophy forgets that you can barely live down here. That what the world offers it quickly takes away. That in truth what’s before us is a mirage and as soon we get near it goes further. The world dangles life before us but it can barely breath. We spend all our lives seeking a life that is taken away in a second. We try mitigate risk, build stamina and eat well. Then one day out of nowhere the pandemic of death comes without knocking. Everything you held dear is taken away with no apology or notice.
It’s then that we revisit the earlier offer and realize we only have one true choice. That this world can’t be offered because it can’t be given. It’s already on the expiry date. Here we only get a land lease for a short while. It’s heaven and hell that is truly on offer. And the mirage of this life says we should reconsider this. That what looks far off is actually very near to us. That before the next breath the after life could be our reality. And however long it takes we will be confronted by that choice sooner or later.
When we get our reality right the offer of heaven makes a lot of sense. It becomes the reasonable choice. The one land we can get permanently to establish our roots. And because the marker of the world is trustworthy we can depend on him however unlikely it seems to the naked eye. It’s actually outrageous to stand on the ground we stand, to breathe the air we breath and delight in the blessings of this life yet term heaven too good to be true. It would seem we doubt the carpenter while in his workshop.
But where nature provides only suggestions about the reality of heaven, the Bible affirms and confirms that we can call it our home. In the eye of scripture nothing is more real and material than the future ahead of us. The call of faith isn’t at all blind for we get more than enough reason to trust in God. It says we can be sure of his faithfulness more than the rising of the sun. What he has said he will do and those who believe are already the citizens of heaven. This world is passing away and with it all it’s promises. But our future is with God and in his eternal city.
1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
We live in a time when people not only rebel against God but where godly values are seen as being evil not just old fashioned. A time when many believe Christians and the God of the Bible should learn something from our woke world. A time when it’s not the church confronting the world but the world raising an accusation finger on the church. When our world truly believes the church and her long history of teaching and demanding obedience to an old book is actually the problem.
In truth we’ve been here long before only for the most part this has been localized in certain circles or remained a private struggle but now it’s becoming a mainstream view. More and more people are embolden not only to question God in private but confront him in public. Many believe it’s time for the church to listen and learn. And since the world is just a click away many have undertaken this as their mission. To confront Biblical values of marriage, our society, leadership at home, in church and in the world. To teach God a lesson on gender, equality and justice.
They point fingers on how God has dealt with the problem of suffering and see him as a perpetrator. The God of love in the Bible is seen as a God of hatred and as a narcissistic being. The God of mercy as a God who is indifferent to the plight of many. The saving God as nothing more than an angry teenager that sends to hell those who disagree with him. A God who picks up on small problems like sin, the choice of consenting adults, and blows these issues beyond proportion. From the view of the world God needs to sit and learn, to evolve and move with the times.
The question before us is, is the world right? Is there something we’ve got wrong? Is it possible the all knowing God has missed something here. For many of us within Evangelical faith, defined in biblical sense, even my description here is nothing short of blasphemy. I trembled as I penned it down but I don’t think we can avoid what the world is saying. Perhaps privately we hold to this but we are not as bold to say it. Now to be clear I don’t think they are right but I think this helps us understand the people we are trying to reach with the Gospel. To see where they are coming from. To understand the problem for some of them is not just mere rebellion. These are not people who knowingly or unknowingly are just going against God’s Word for the sake of it. It’s more invested than that and many of them might believe we are the problem not them.
As I said I don’t think this is necessary new to our world. It goes back to Adam and Eve and the tower of Babel in Genesis. You see sin is not just rebellion against God’s word. It also sells the lie that we know better and that we, not God, have the best interest for us and the world around us. That we are not just right but that we are just and moral unlike the God of the Bible. Satan whispers to our ear that the problem is that God doesn’t want us to be like him. That he wants to spoil our freedom and hinder us from what’s truly best for us. And that he’s never there when we need him most. He wants us scattered while the best thing would be for us to stay in one place seeking what’s best for humanity. Building a society and a name for ourselves in this world.
4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
While our world is more bold in calling God names and trampling down on Christian values, this is still the trick of the old liar. Sin has come out in public demanding of us to follow it’s own religion and calling names on those who disobey it. It calls men to follow it with a promise to make their life better. But in truth it’s just another faith, another gospel, the religion of modern man. But still it’s the old devil in the details masquerading like the angel of light. And this religion is strong because our hearts are easily drawn to it. It’s actually natural to man to see what God calls good as bad and see the promises of sin as heaven on earth. This is the faith of the natural sinful man.
Sin turns upside down what the Word of God demands. It pokes holes on the attributes of God and questions his motives. It raises questions on the relevance of the Bible to a changing world. And preaches to us that God either doesn’t know better or doesn’t care as much. It’s the Serpent telling Eve that God is just mean and doesn’t want us to be invisible like him. But as it was in the garden and all through Bible history, sin never delivers what it promises. But even then it demands we settle with that lie simply because it looks tangible.
But has our world become better as we’ve moved away from Christian values? Have we now found an answer to the happy ever after question in sexual revolution? Has our crusade on gender and equality outside of God brought us to the promised land? There are those who believe this is the case. But in truth when you look around you realise that as we’ve moved further away from God and his values we’ve only become more confused and lost. We are like the prodigal child that leaves their home away from the Father only to return miserable and empty.
The truth of the matter is we cannot sow seeds of selfish pursuit and still have a better society. We cannot shove God away and expect to enjoy his world without him. We cannot call good evil and evil good without facing the judgement of a broken world. It’s asking for Genesis 3 all over again. Actually it’s a miracle that we haven’t descended into anarchy sooner. It’s an act of grace that our society still works. If we managed to kick God out of the picture completely we would soon see the horns of the lying devil we are following.
In truth what our world is truly craving is a world devoid of problems. We are looking to have heaven on earth but we don’t want God in it. We essentially want to be like God and choose to blame him for our own failures. It’s Eve and the old serpent all over again. And as the Adams of this world we tell God it’s you who made us this way. You are to blame not us. Your way is not good for us. Give us a chance to show you how things are done. Take a back seat and learn what true human values look like. But praise be to God that even when he allows us to kick him out still he stays close. Praise God that amidst this man made hell God is actively involved as God over all and especially through the work of the Gospel.
For those caught up in this, what you are truly looking for, a world without problems, true freedom and happiness is actually found in God through the Gospel. It’s the lie of the devil that says you can get it in the world or in believing and following your heart. You are still not free for in getting the world beneath your feet the devil asks you to bow before him. The world, the devil and sin cannot provide what they promise. They are like politicians in a general election. They’ll say anything to get in but once in you’ll be in their mercy.
Perhaps you are right there’s something wrong with our churches today but it’s not God who is wrong. It’s when our churches have not given you the full Gospel picture. When we have picked and chosen what to teach, what sin to condemn and what attribute of God to hammer down. The God of the Bible as we see when the Gospel is taught clearly is truly invested in your life. He’s not just the Judge but Saviour. He doesn’t condone one sin and judge another. His son was tempted like you are and through the cross brought into everlasting life. He couldn’t bow to the devil and the lies of the world even when they wanted to crown him king. He knew they had no real power to provide what they promised.
But what the world promises and can’t give God promises and has given. In the Gospel we see one who died for us. One who is carrying us to our eternal home. One who sympathises and helps us in our weaknesses for our own good. One who will truly give heaven to those who trust and walk with him. Choosing God won’t give you heaven here and now. It won’t fulfill your wild cravings or make your life easier. But you are far better off with him than in the world. You’ll get true eternal heavenly hope and help by his Word and Spirit in this life. True happiness is found in him not outside of him. What you are looking for is the salvation only he gives. And you finally behold his true face in the Gospel you’ll shout in his praise.