Church Life, Outreach, Missions
Things We Can Only Do Now
by Ed Vasicek
About the time this edition of the Body Builder hits the press, some of you procrastinators will be busy finishing up a few summer projects. Perhaps you put off painting till the weather cooled, or you are finally patching that broken sidewalk. You are doing these tasks now because they may be difficult or impossible to do during the winter.
You may have never thought about this, but contemplate this with me. There are some tasks God has for us that we cannot do in heaven; we must do them now, on earth, or they remain undone. The time is now. When winter comes, it will be too late.
What heaven will be like is, to a large extent, a mystery. We know that we will be able to worship God more purely and sincerely than we ever could on earth. It seems we will help rule over the universe. It also seems that we will be learning about the nature of God's grace throughout eternity (Ephesians 2:7). On one hand, we can (to some degree) worship God while on earth, grow in Kingdom leadership skill, and learn about the grace of God. In eternity, we will excel in these areas. On the other hand, we can do some things on earth, in the here and now, that we will not be able to do in heaven. Consider a few of these with me.
On earth, we can evangelize. Whether people reject or accept Christ, God is glorified (2 Corinthians 2:15) through the process. We can be a bulwark for missions, helping fulfill the Great Commission. We will have no opportunity to reach people for Christ in heaven. The Great Commission will be history. None of our peers will be called to the mission field from the city of golden streets. We will have no lost neighbors with whom we can share the Good News.
On earth we can edify others, building them up in their faith. We can stimulate others to good works, use our abilities and gifts to strengthen the Body of Christ, and experience spiritual growth. We can progress toward holiness and spiritual maturity. In heaven, we will have no sin to overcome, nor will we be able to help others win their battles. Spiritual gifts will be unnecessary, and edification will be a thing of the past.
On earth, we can intercede for others in prayer. We can do battle with Satan, putting on the armor of God. We can be strong soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ. In heaven, we will but remember the victories and lay our laurels at his feet. But we will be unable to add to our list of victories.
No one will need mercy in heaven. There will be no sick to visit, no moms with new babies for whom we can bring meals, no need to baby-sit a sick neighbor's child. But now, on earth, we hardly know where to begin. We can glorify God by being careful to do good works.
In heaven, there will be no children to train (though many children will inhabit heaven, probably appearing as adults). There will be no need to help strengthen marriages and no counseling ministries. We will be like angels, neither marrying nor giving in marriage. In contrast, the possibilities to serve the Lord now by ministering to children and youth, by mentoring marriages, or by counseling adults seems infinite.
In heaven, there will be no riches to earn, no sacrifices to make. They will not pass the offering plate in glory. Financial secretaries and church treasurers will be distant memories. But on earth, we can store up treasures in heaven. Jesus could not have been more blunt in telling us so (Matthew 6:20).
In heaven, we will not need to worry about doctrine since we'll finally all agree up there. There will be no error to fight, no heresies to guard against, no need for shepherds to guard the sheep. On earth we have so much of which to keep abreast. Theological dangers can be found a little to the left or right of the straight and narrow, and many sheep are so gullible.
In heaven, there will be no example to set, and no light will be needed to shine on a hill. This little light of ours will pale in contrast to the light of God's presence. There will be no family to rear, no marriages to show the world the relationship of Christ and the Church, no need to work at loving our neighbor. On earth these responsibilities are weighty ones indeed.
You see, there are many tasks God has for us during our stay on earth. We can do things for the Lord now that we will not be able to do in eternity. We are able to glorify God in ways now that will not be relevant in heaven. So appreciate your life on earth. It can be an investment in eternity. Do the things on earth now that you won't be able to do in heaven. Winter is coming, so get your painting done!
Reprinted from the October 2000 Body Builder, a publication of Highland Park Church.
Highland Park Church