Author: Ron Graham
We have eternal life, and should know that we have it (1John 5:11-13) . But our experience of daily life makes it difficult for us to conceive of, believe in, and relate to eternal life. Daily life crowds out our love for truth, faith in Christ, and hope of heaven. Here are four common problems:
When you go on a camping trip, your tent is very important, and you value it and give it proper care. But it is a tent, a temporary home, so you don't line it with fine silk or emboss your monogram on it in gold leaf. Yes, it's true that some nomadic peoples do have most gorgeous tents, however these are their true homes whereas your tent is not your true home. When you go camping, you take only the very essential things —not needless burdens.
Your physical body is a "tent" (2Peter 1:13) . You are only camping in this world. As a Christian, be content with sufficiency (1Timothy 6:8) . Constant pressure to provide more and more luxuries for "this earthly tent" renders you unable to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:32-33) . You don't need a "high living" standard.
Having spoken of sufficiency, let's now think of efficiency. Some reckon this means cramming as much action as possible into every moment. That idea is a legacy of the industrial era. Commitment to an unrelenting schedule prevents us from doing what the old song advises: "Take time to be holy".
Have you ever wondered why Jesus did not ride a horse? He could have taken care of the financial and legal requirements for owing a beast, just as he took care of the problem of paying his taxes. But Jesus preferred to walk. He didn't think it was more efficient to go everywhere at a gallop.
"Redeeming the time" (Colossians 4:5) does not mean enslavement to a schedule. It means rescuing our time from the pointless "busy work" in which daily life enslaves us, and devoting that time to the "one thing that is needful" (Luke 10:41) .
It may seem a strange thing to say, but we can be guilty of too much caring. We shouldn't spoil others with our kindness, nor should they demand unnecessary service of us. Don't do for others what you can teach them to do for themselves. That is as much a golden rule as the better known one. In many cases, where relationships have soured, it may be more helpful to stop doing for others what they don't need done. We may fear a reflection upon our love and honour. But being made to feel guilty is only part of the unjust entrapment.
It's hard to relate to your true Master, and the glorious life he offers you, when you are imprisoned in earthly relationships that chronically frustrate you and make you feel used.
Parents are to give their children "Nurture and admonition" (Ephesians 6:4). This "nurture" is not mollycoddling. In the Greek it means chastisement and discipline. Sometimes a metaphorical kick up the backside is the kindest thing you can do for your child.
Sometimes the main reason for a relationship failure is that one party didn't know when to say "no", or didn't think it was allowed. When people became too demanding, of his apostles, Jesus said, "Come aside to a quiet place and rest" (Mark 6:30-31) . Maybe you need to do the same, and tell everybody to go chase themselves for awhile.
Like most things in life, education is good in moderation. The wise man said, "Of making many books there is no end" . He advised against excessive devotion to study. He said that the main thing in life is "to fear God and keep his commandments" (Ecclesiastes 12:12-13).
Paul observed that, among Christians, there were "Not many wise" regarding worldly wisdom and knowledge. But Christians knew the most important thing, namely "the message of the cross" (1Corinthians 1:18-26) . It is hard to have a clear view of that cross, and the eternal life it brings you, if you are crowding your mind with temporal learning.
Examine your daily life. Is the hope of eternal life reflected in your daily living, in the way you conduct your life on earth? Or is that hope overwhelmed by the luxuries you provide for your body, the busy schedule that constrains your time, the over-caring in your relationships, your obsession with education, or some similar distraction?
A life burdened with more than is really needful, is a life out of sympathy with the hope of heaven. No wonder we cannot relate our daily lives to eternal life, and we start feeling like misfits or hypocrites in the church.