Author: Ron Graham
—Three Main Goals in Christian Life
Sometime in 2018, I noticed the word “aspirational” becoming popular. As I write a year later, “aspirational” is still in use. Recently an Australian politician explained our government’s failure to keep an international agreement made in Paris. He said that agreements of this sort are only “aspirational”!
Well the aspirations of Christians are not like that. Our aspirations are expectations. We truly believe that we will achieve them without a doubt.
Our Challenging Goals
However, we do find our aspirations very challenging. But we thank God for providing the resources to meet the challenges and succeed in our goals.
The goals to which a true Christian aspires are more challenging than climbing the highest mountain, sailing solo around the world, making a trillion dollars, or turning Australia’s great desert into a green and fertile paradise. People aspire to such things, but Christians aspire to more —much more.
Our Real Heavenly Goals
Christians are often accused of needing a crutch to help them get through life —so they turn to faith, and to worshiping God and find comfort in illusion. However Christianity is no crutch, no illusion. Christians have discovered a way of life based on heavenly goals and “aspirations”. These are not airy-fairy, but even more real than any earthly thing.
John saw this fact in one of the visions given him. "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them" (Revelation 20:11).
The things of this world are transient. They "appear for a little while and then vanish away" (James 4:13-16). In sharp contrast to that, the things to which a Christian aspires are real and powerful. Moreover, they are eternal.
So what do Christians aspire to? You could make a long list I know, but I give you a short one —three of the great aspirations that drive a Christian.
1 To Please God
The Bible says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). Pleasing God is not just the result of having faith, its also the reason why we cling to faith. We know that if we abandon faith we displease God and there is nothing worse than incurring God’s displeasure. So we keep living by faith no matter how challenging it gets. God is pleased and responds by sustaining our faith.
A benediction says, ¶"May the God of peace... make you complete in every good work to do his will. May he work in you what is very pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever, Amen" (Hebrews 13:20-21). That pretty well sums up the Christian’s aspirations.
Paul says, ¶"I urge you brethren, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. That's the reason you worship him" (Romans 12:1).
Paul speaks of pleasing God in his own mission. ¶"Just as we have been approved by God as trustees of the gospel, so we speak, not as people‑pleasers, but to please God who tests our hearts". (1Thessalonians 2:4)
Further along, Paul says, "So finally brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus, that you should abound more and more just as we taught you how to walk and to please God" (1Thessalonians 4:7).
True Christians aspire to learn what pleases God, to understand what God’s will is, and to worship and seek God accordingly.
2 To Be Pure
Peter writes, ¶"You obeyed the truth, and so your souls were made pure. Now you sincerely love each other like brothers do. So keep on loving with all your heart." (1 Peter 1:22). Whilst Peter is here encouraging love, he notes that it goes hand in hand with an aspiration to obey the truth, so that God can purify one’s soul, thereby enabling one to truly love.
Some people believe that human beings are unchangeably fallen creatures who cannot be pure. However, through the blood of Christ every sin can be forgiven and erased. "We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and he himself is the atonement for our sins —and not just ours, but the sins of the whole world" (1John 2:1-2).
Encouraging some who had lived in wickedness before they followed Christ, Paul says, ¶"You were washed, you were sanctified (made holy), you were justified (made righteous), in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1Corinthians 6:11).
The Hebrew Christians were urged thus: ¶"Having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water" (Hebrews 10:19-22). While the writer uses figures of speech drawn from the tabernacle ceremonies of Moses’s time, his meaning is clear. We can be purified by the blood of our High Priest, Jesus Christ.
This purification or cleansing is not only within us, but is also seen outwardly in the way we conduct our lives. Paul says, "God did not call us to be impure, but to be holy" (1Thessalonians 4:7).
True Christians aspire to purify not ony their souls and consciences, but also their lives and deeds.
3 To Enter Heaven
I've heard it said that even if there were no heaven, the pure Christian life would still be a more rewarding way of life than a sinful life could be. But of course there is a heaven, and the goal of living a God‑pleasing life in purity is to enter heaven and dwell with God for ever and ever.
Paul writes, "Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20). Earlier Paul tells us his aspiration: "Facing the goal, I press on for the prize, the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).
Paul describes the event thus: "The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, with the trumpet of God. First, the dead1 in Christ will arise. Then we who are still alive [at his coming] will be caught up with them. We will all meet the Lord in the air. So then we shall ever be with the Lord" (1Thessalonians 4:16-17).
1Note:— Dead or Alive. Paul points out that death has no effect on our aspiration to enter heaven. Whether we are dead or alive at his coming, we will receive the upward call and together in rapture ascend to meet the Lord.
The last chapters of Revelation give us a glimpse of heaven. For example take this excerpt: "Behold the tabernacle of God is with humankind, and he will dwell with them and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them and be their God. And from their eyes, God shall wipe away all tears. Death shall be no more, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for what used to be has passed away" (Revelation 21:3-4)
True Christians aspire to please God and be pure in this life, and beyond that to dwell in complete happiness forever with God.