Have you ever heard the saying “too heavenly minded, that you’re no earthly good”? Well clichés are cliches for a reason, because this is a true statement. One of the greatest criticisms of the Christian faith is our preoccupation with heaven and what happens after we die. This fascination is particularly prevalent in the African-American church, because historically black slaves were taught that we should only expect our reward in heaven, and that teaching just remained a fundamental philosophical fixture. In fact, I can not recall a funeral, in a black church, that I did not hear the song, “Going Up Yonder”. It doesn’t stop there. The church at large sings “I’ll Fly Away”, “Sweet By And By”, and “When We All Get To Heaven” with a seemingly greater fervor than others.
While I believe the existence and grandeur of heaven is real, I do believe the afore-mentioned cliché rings true, because there are many rewards that the believer can experience in this life. If we fail to recognize and celebrate all the other rewards of placing our trust in Jesus, then we do a disservice to what He accomplished for us.
- Eternal Life – Yes according to John 3:16, the believer inherits “everlasting life”, but that life doesn’t begin when we die. Life of this sort begins the moment you place your saving faith in HIM. When you accept the gospel you awaken your dormant spirit, making that spirit come alive; thus beginning your life eternal to be enjoyed immediately.
- Peace – Anyone who doesn’t value peace, don’t really recognize the world of confusion in which we live. Personal peace, that is not attached to any external factors, but comes from within, is something one would think more would desire. The peace that Jesus offers, according to Philippians 4:7, transcends all of our own wisdom and understand. It’s peace that can’t be explained.
- Security – Knowing that God is all-powerful is one thing, but it’s a whole other animal to know that Almighty God is concerned about me! There is great security in knowing that He not only has my best interests at heart, but according to Psalms 3:3 is actively engaged in protecting, guiding, and comforting me. Trusting His is a “sure bet” to bring me to a good ultimate ending.
- Answered Prayer – The believer has been privileged with a direct line to God, Himself, by the vehicle of prayer. Prayer is no longer a fruitless wish list, but an active dialogue with the creator of all things, activating things to happen. James 5:16 teaches that our prayers go a long way, when we are connected to the Answerer of prayers.
- Unconditional Love – Everywhere in life, we have to earn the love and affection of others; jumping through their proverbial hoops to make them happy. But God’s love acceptance is not rooted in our pleasing Him. On the contrary, we are compelled to please Him, because according to Romans 5:8, He loves us although we aren’t worthy to be loved. I will admit that accepting that kind of love is hard and downright unbelievable at times, but it is real.
See, it ain’t nothing wrong with dreaming and longing for heaven, please don’t get me wrong, but living just for the next life can leave you coming up short. We will be pulled between being ready for heaven, but crying “What am I supposed to do” while we’re living in this world. Yes, I’ll see you next lifetime. Yes, I plan to be there; but my reward is already at hand.
© 2016 Derek J. Murphy Enterprises, and I AM KINGDOM Publishing, All Rights Reserved.
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“Next Lifetime” Written and Produced by Erykah Badu and A. Scott. Released 1997.