(To my big surprise, it has been nearly a year since I have posted any devotional pieces. What a great neglect on my part. This one was written 1 and 1/2 years ago. I am not sure why it was never posted.)
Prov. 23: 17-18- "Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day; For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off." (NKJV)
A famous Christian pastor recently claimed that the prospect of heaven is no longer an effective witnessing tool to get people to accept the Gospel. I can see why that is in America. In the past, death and illness was a constant presence in every household. Death's presence was a constant reminder to the living that they were mortal, and that one day soon they must face God. It was also a reminder that sin had to be put to death before that judgement day. In many cases, those that chose to spend eternity with God viewed those who chose otherwise with disbelief. How could these people chose personal advancement, the acquisition of wealth and pleasure over spending eternity with God? Didn't they understand that they would soon face judgement? Those that chose to live for God were not enticed by the culture to compromise their standards of behavior. Like Moses, they chose "to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin..." (NKJV).
In America, however, things have changed. Advances in medicine have increased our lifespan and have rendered harmless some maladies which were once fatal. Modern Medicine has done wonders in decreasing the pain of many ailments. Today, most people do not die at home but at hospitals, which causes many to become ignorant about how we humans actually die. Advances in technology have taken much stress and drudgery out of life. Added to this, our entertainment culture provides us with so many ways to continually amuse ourselves that thoughts of our own mortality never seem to surface. We live for our weekends of pleasure, and any chance of having fun on a workday will not be missed. I read a quote of a twenty-six year old teacher recently who wishes that when she turns forty, she still has the energy to party that she has now. Many men lament the decline of their ability to participate in sports. The thing we fear the most is aging. And we do not realize that we are all going to die. This mindset makes it harder to not resent those who have more money and toys than us. We hide from ourselves the certainty of God's judgement. Sadly, this is true even for those who claim that Jesus is the Lord of their lives.
Heaven, eternity with God, has been for the Church one of the great hopes it has been able to give to a perishing world. But here in America, we have created our own worldly heaven that we do not want to leave. How does the Church get people to desire Heaven in a world such as ours? Somehow God will get people to see their folly. How will He do it? Judgement? Missionary activity in this land by people from Africa, Latin America, Asia?
In the meantime, those of us who follow Jesus, have we weaned ourselves off of the culture? Do we live a lifestyle that dulls our senses and causes us to forget to seek God and prevents the Holy Spirit from doing a work in us? Are we trying to reach as many as we can, or do we content ourselves with silence. Perhaps if we live differently, we may attract those who know that they are empty inside to accept Jesus. And then together we can live a lifestyle that honors God and together live in glad expectation of the hereafter.