Almost every adult on earth is living – striving – for something. They may call it their life’s goal or their ultimate purpose, but, regardless of terminology, it is that toward which they toil and upon which they focus their greatest physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual energy. For some, it is their family. For others, it is their job. For still others, it is their quest for power, prestige, or possessions.
For Christians, there should be only one major objective, and it is eternal.
During a religion class I was teaching several years ago, I asked those gathered (all of whom were Christian parents) to identify their greatest desire for their children. One parent stated, “The right spouse.” Another responded, “The right school.” Another replied, “The right job.” I told them that each of their answers was a good one, but I also told them that there was one goal that should be at the top of every parent’s list for their children.
There is an old saying that man plans and God laughs. This does not mean that God is making fun of us, nor does it mean that God never wants us to make any plans at all. Instead, it means that, as humans, we ultimately have little control over how the future unfolds. Sometimes our plans fail because of the choices we make, but sometimes they fail through no fault of our own.
But Heaven is different – and God has a way that will not fail.
When we plan – live – for Heaven, when we focus our energy and our efforts on eternal union with the One True God, God works with us and alongside us. Because His will and His way are perfect, and because He does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9), God will never cease or diminish His efforts on our behalf.
It’s called grace, and God’s grace is unconditional.
If we want to live for Heaven, if we want the goal of this life to be eternal life in the world to come, then what should we do – and what should we help our loved ones do?
We need to live like Jesus:
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. (1 John 4:16b–17, NIV)
And how do we live like Jesus? The Word of God gives us three wonderful ways to begin.
First, living like Jesus means loving like Jesus. Love – real love, true love, other-centered love – was not only a favorite topic of Jesus during His ministry on earth (see, for example, Luke 10:25–37), but it was also His command to us (John 13:34). If we want to live for Heaven, and if we understand that living for Heaven means living like Jesus, then we must love God and also love others (Mark 12:28–31), beginning with the least, the last, and the lost among us (Matthew 25:31–46) as well as our enemies (Matthew 5:43–48).
Second, living like Jesus means forgiving like Jesus. Jesus also spoke often about the importance of forgiveness (see, for example, Matthew 6:12, 14–15), but He also modeled it for us when, from the cross, He forgave those who crucified Him (Luke 23:33–34). Living like Jesus means forgiving like Jesus – and not just seven times “but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21–22, NIV), a number signifying forgiveness without limit.
Third, living like Jesus means dying like Jesus. No, I don’t mean that God wants us to die physically for Him (although thousands of Christians freely do so every year in this fallen world). Rather, God wants us to die to self by placing the needs of His Kingdom above our own earthly wants and desires. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian, summarized this point, and Christian discipleship in general, when he wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Die to the things of this world. Die to Satan’s empty promises. Die to everything that separates us from the Lord.
So go ahead, my dear friend, go ahead and live for Heaven by living like Jesus. Your journey will be filled with joy and peace, and your final destination will be more than you can imagine.
-- Dr. John Morris