Let me paint for you a quick hypothetical picture. It’s a useful one because it could easily happen, and those are of course the most helpful sorts of hypotheticals.
On my way home today, someone flies through a red light going 50 mph and hits me in the driver’s side. God allows my earthly life to end and so I am almost immediately after impact with Him, standing before His Son.
Now the point of this hypothetical: What matters? With eternity now stretching out before my eyes, unfolding in front of me like a golden river at the feet of Jesus, what matters? What was meaningful in my life while living in this frail body on this fractured planet, before both of them get remade? With all of my decades on earth now looking like one grain of sand on a beach of moments stretching a million miles in either direction, what was of value?
Whether or not I finally got the house in order? If I got to see the last episode of that TV series I was watching? How annoying it was to clean the litter boxes? Whether or not I got the raise I wanted?
Either eternity is real or it’s not. Either Heaven and Hell exist, one of which will contain every single friend, co-worker, neighbor, and family member I have, or they don’t. Either Jesus rose from the dead and will return to judge every single soul that’s ever been woven into existence or not. And if eternity is real, and the universe really is as Jesus said it was (namely under His feet), then all my priorities have to be different from my neighbors and buddies who don’t think as such. I can’t think about raising my kids the the way they think about raising theirs. I can’t think about retirement or free time or finances or prayer or death or forgiveness the way they do. Because I am living with the certain, rock-solid awareness that every single human being will either experience unending happiness at the feet of Jesus Christ or unending misery under His wrath for their sin.
Every thing I do here touches the silver thread of eternity. I can hide from that fact more easily in America than many other human beings can, because unlike the Christians in Nigeria, Iraq, or Cambodia I can play with electronics in my central air to the point of numbing myself to eternity. And unlike most Christians (and humans) throughout history I haven’t lost a child in infancy or early childhood. So I can, if I choose to, pretend that I won’t stand before God with a trillion moments of either incalculable joy or just, deserved agony awaiting me. I live in a time and place with the privilege of diversion (or the diversion of privilege, perhaps), and so I can pretend that this life is bigger than it is and that the grave is smaller.
But guys, I won’t just hypothetically die. Unless King Jesus comes back in my lifetime, I will truly, honestly go to sleep and awaken to His shining face and heart-stopping glory. And I refuse to live in such a way that’ll win me the world but cause me to forfeit my soul. I want to please Him now so I can enjoy His pleasure forever.
I plead with you to join me, and all of His true saints, in that. Let’s run together towards eternity.
*Note: This post is adapted from an e-mail I sent to our church.