So I have noticed something about birthdays…if you live long enough, another one comes your way! (It only took me 5 decades to figure this simple fact out.) Surprisingly, people, as we approach 25 or so seem to want to deny their age. I, could, for example simply deny being 50. I might say “I am 18 with 32 years of experience.” Of course, that doesn’t change the fact. 🙂
My favorite way people use to cope with another birthday is to say “Well, it’s better than the alternative.” This is a clear indication that the alternative is death! I might even agree with this if death were, indeed, the alternative. However, when one thinks about it, what is the alternative? Life here is good. But the alternative?
For the Christian, one who follows God faithfully, the alternative is eternal life. So, is living worse than the alternative?
This was the dilemma that Paul found himself in when he wrote to the Philippians while he was in jail waiting to see if he would be executed.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. (Php 1:21-24)
Faced with an uncertain future, Paul was torn between his desire to depart this world and be with Christ (“which is far better”) and the desire to stay in this world to help encourage those in Philippi (‘which is more needful for you”).
The clear lesson to be learned is that there is work to do in this life. However, this life is not the best we will have. When we act, say, or think that dying is not preferable to living we miss the whole point of being in Christ!
One of the things we say is, we want to go to heaven but not today. We have more life to live. One friend (many years ago) said “The Lord can return but I hope he waits until after I get married.” Marriage is an honorable institution but really, are the joys of being married to be compared to being in Heaven?
In many ways, we are this short-sighted. We are told to set goals and most of the time, those goals are earth bound: Job, marriage, possessions, travel, etc. We want to go to Heaven but how much of a goal do we make of going to Heaven? Three things should be on our mind in relationship to going to Heaven.
- Make sure we get there-Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Are you seeking God’s ways or your own pleasures? If you are poor in this life, you will still be rich in the life to come. You may, or may not, be poor but let God bless you in ways He knows you can handle and be content on your journey.
- Make sure others get there-Not all of us are preachers and teachers but we can till the soil for the evangelist through hospitality and by letting our light shine in the way we live our life. We can also support the preaching of the Gospel. If you were to send $20 a week to someone who preaches the Gospel, it may not be a lot but when coupled with 10 others, it would have an impact.
- Long to get to Heaven. Develop the desire that Heaven is where you want to be and the sooner you can get there, the better! Live like you are going to Heaven at any moment. Be like Fred Flintstone (who, while working hard) waited for that quitting time whistle so he could head home. This longing will help you to refrain from doing some things in life that you might otherwise engage in while thinking, “I can repent later”. It will allow you to tell Satan to take a hike when he whispers how much more fun his way is than God’s.
There are other things to keep in mind, of course, but mostly we need to learn to think, eat, drink, and sleep going to Heaven.
So the next time someone says “I woke up today, I guess that is better than the alternative”, you might ask them if they are sure about that! (and if they are…tell them about Christ!)
Photo Credit: takomabibelot