“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Today I’d like to pose a question. Where do you live? No, I’m not talking about your address, town, state or even country. The question I’m asking has to do with your spiritual address. Let me be a little more specific.
Are you living in Hell or in Heaven?
Bear with me while I give you some background on why I’m asking such an unusual question. I recently heard a statement that I can’t get out of mind. It’s stayed with me, influencing the way I view things. Tighten your seatbelt, I predict it may shake your world a bit, too.
For a believer, life here on earth is hell—but for someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus, life here on earth is heaven.
I’ve turned it around and around in my mind, looking for the flaw in such an outrageous statement. I keep going back to the Bible, measuring this thought against the plum-line of God’s word. And I’ve decided it’s an accurate statement.
Since I’m a believer, I know I’m going to spend eternity in Heaven. Compared to what the Bible promises about Heaven, things on this old earth begin to resemble Hell. Jesus himself promises his followers a life of suffering, persecution, even warfare. Definitely not my definition of Heaven.
But for someone who isn’t a follower of Christ, the Bible promises that this is as good as it gets. At the end of this life waits an actual Hell—complete with fire, brimstone and Satan himself.
This brings me to my next question.
Why are we, as believers, expecting life here to be so good?
So often, we assume our lives will be easy and filled with blessings. I know I do. It doesn’t matter how often I read about the suffering I should expect, I’m still surprised when it appears.
But when I look at life as black or white . . .
Heaven or Hell . . .
Things get a little bit clearer. I find my perspective restored. It doesn’t take away the suffering, but it does give me an end date. And following that end, comes an eternity so perfect I truly cannot imagine it.
And I think that may be part of the problem. I know I can’t KNOW what Heaven’s going to be like, so I don’t even try. Beyond that, I don’t even spend much time thinking about it. I spend all my time and energy trying to make this life into a kind of Heaven.
I’m not saying we can’t or shouldn’t have joy while we’re here, or encounter blessings along the way. But I need to view them as they’re meant to be viewed—as a foreshadowing of what’s to come.
So today I’m going to make the decision to see this world as it is. But that’s not going to be my focus. Instead, I’m going to fix my eyes on eternity—on Heaven—realizing that all this strife and suffering will pass away.