A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next… It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither (p. 134).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Who saves more money: the person who thinks of retirement or the person who ignores it? Who does better on a performance evaluation: the person who thinks of the boss’s expectations or the person who doesn’t?
Who changes the world: the person who believes what he/she does has eternal significance or the person who thinks “you only go around once, so why not enjoy it”? The parallels are not exact, but the principle the same – if you think what you are doing matters for something, then you do a better job of it.
The question eternity forces us to ask is, “Does life matter?” If we are temporal creatures who live, die, and decay, then the answer is no. If we are eternal creatures whose earthly life sets our eternal destiny, then the answer is a resounding YES!
It quickly becomes evident why (at least partially) modern Christians do not make a bigger difference on the world – we believe this world is all there is. We no longer live our lives as an investment in something greater than our lives.
When this happens we flip the big question of life from, “What can I do for God?” to, “What does God have to offer me?” We begin to live as if God existed to satisfy us instead of seeing that we exist to glorify God. We grade God instead of seeking to please Him.
Heaven is as important for this life as graduation is to school or a paycheck is to a job interview. Heaven provides a reference point where effort will be rewarded. Like a diploma or a paycheck, Heaven will not be something that everyone receives for “just showing up.”
This must not be taken to imply that we “earn” heaven. That would be the grandest distortion of heaven and the gospel. The point being made is that knowing (a) there is a time when people will give account, (b) that people may eternally go without, and (c) what people decide – in this case about Christ – will make the difference, compels us to live differently.
Passivity is the functional expression of disbelief in eternity. To do nothing assumes that nothing I do matters; that nothing is at stake. The only possible way that could be true is if I live for 70 years and then cease to be.
So what is the take away? Think about heaven, but not as a luxury destination or optimal retirement home. Think about heaven as the ultimate investment. Realize that heaven is what makes everything matter and then live as if life mattered. With that perspective, see how God will use you to change the world.