Ever hear of people so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good? It’s a popular sentiment. As far as the apostle Paul was concerned, however, heavenly mindedness actually contributes to the worth of our lives.
I. It Helps Us Live with Great Confidence (
Believing we have a home “where no storm clouds rise” helps us face the storms of this life with greater courage. Believing the unseen Jesus sees all we do motivates us to do more and better than we would otherwise. As C.S. Lewis writes, “The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven” (Mere Christianity).
Has the Christian idea that we aren’t really home here led to abuses? Unfortunately, yes. In his letters to the Thessalonian church, Paul dealt with the problem of Christian laziness. Believing that Jesus’ return was imminent, some of the members of the church had quit work. They became moochers, sponging off their more industrious brethren. The sanctified thumb twiddling of a few evoked a stern response from the apostle: “If a man won’t work, he won’t eat! (
Our modern counterpart reveals itself less as unemployment and more as detachment: “The world’s gone to hell in a hand basket, so we’ll just hunker in our bunker till the rapture!” While it’s true that we walk by faith and not by sight, this is more than faith in Christ’s appearing. The faith we walk by sends us out among the sick, the oppressed, the lost to do what we may for them in Christ’s name while we are able. We live with the confidence that we one day will see Him. In the meantime, we live to please Him.
II. We Live Proactively, Confidently Serving Jesus Because We Have Come to a Great Conclusion (
Paul was a man with a magnificent obsession. He believed Christ was the be-all and end-all of everything. Not only did Paul see his own life as stitched and hemmed by Christ but all human life. “One died for all,” he declared. “Therefore, all died.” Using the deductive reasoning of Sherlock Holmes, he concluded, “We should therefore no longer live for ourselves but for the One who died and rose.”
Look with Paul’s eyes. What do you see? Behind us is Christ dying and rising for us. Before us is Christ poised to give us what we have coming to us. All around us are the walking dead in need of resurrection! So what do we do in the meantime? There is only one good answer: We must preach the gospel, persuading people of God’s marvelous love and His ultimate justice. We don’t belong to us anymore. Hang this sign around your neck: “Under New Management.” They don’t belong to them anymore. Hang this sign on them: “Looking for a Heavenly Minded Messenger.”
III. Our Great Confidence in and Conclusion About Life Come from Our Great Conversion (
Simply put, we’re not ourselves anymore! As the caterpillar became a butterfly, we’ve become new creations. Cocooned in faith, swathed in baptismal waters, we emerged dripping with new meaning, purpose and hope. Our great challenge—our great need—is to rediscover our baptismal identity as the children of God.
Once we see ourselves as different from what we were, we can look at others differently. The song says, “He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.” New creations with new eyes see people as more than annoyances or obstacles. They don’t look at the world through rose-colored glasses; they look at people with Christ-softened eyes.
The cross pushes us. Heaven pulls us. Thus, do we walk…in the meantime.