What shapes your perspective? Now? Or Forever?

Trinity Pres Church copy

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word pilgrim? How about refugee? Or alien? If you see yourself as a Christian, have you ever thought of yourself as all of these? And more?

In my last few emails, I have been working out ways in which we can establish credibility before a watching world, especially as trusting Jesus and His Word is increasingly viewed with suspicion if not open ridicule. I believe an important distinctive we’re called to is to live out our present while we’re hopefully anchored in eternity.

In Scripture, believers are called simultaneously citizens of heaven (or members of God’s household) and exiles on earth (or sojourners, which means temporary residents). So in a way, we carry a dual reality around in our hearts all the time. We belong eternally with the Lord, and that is our certain future, and yet, for now, we live here on Earth as aliens. This is not our final home.

An eternal perspective is fundamentally different, like the advanced math of motivation and perspective — calculus, not merely addition or subtraction. An eternal perspective lived out in my present situations, relationships, and priorities makes a profound difference.

It’s faith, not sight. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:5-10: 

He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. [Yet] whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

It’s making present-tense decisions in light of eternal consequences. Many child development specialists agree that a pivotal milestone in a child’s maturity is when they can start to understand — and willingly choose — delayed gratification. This is the ability to delay an impulse for an immediate reward to receive a more favorable reward at a later time, a key to progress in learning, financial gain, health, and fitness.

And an eternal perspective is the ultimate form of maturity. I have long defined maturity as how well someone can think out in terms of people and time. For instance, how many people can a 2-year-old think about? Likely themselves and probably their parents (and maybe a sibling). Yet, how many people can a 12-year-old think about? Versus someone who’s 25 or even 50? And then how far out can a 2-year-old think about time? Their grid is firmly anchored in the NOW!! And how far out in time can a 12-year-old think? Maybe to Christmas or their next birthday. Yet compare that with how far out in time someone can think as they make 20 or 30-year plans.

Then, compare all of us with Jesus. How many people does Jesus think about? Absolutely every single soul in existence because He created all of us! And how far out in time does Jesus think and act? He has been working from before the foundations of the world, stretching out to vistas of eternity that we can’t even fathom. I believe Jesus did everything that He did for us, in all of His suffering and humiliation, because of HIS sight of and commitment to our eternal advantage.

He put our needs ahead of His desires or comforts. By His eternal perspective and acting accordingly, He has saved our very lives. And fittingly, the Father has glorified Him above every name that is named (see Ephesians 1 or Philippians 2).

So how have you lived with temporary tunnel vision? How have you been so short-sighted as to be practically eternally blind? How do you need to repent of your lack of vision? How can you trust Jesus to work in your heart to raise your gaze, to loosen your grip on things that are so very temporary, and to inspire you — even if you’re only getting started — to begin to think out further and further, and to begin to view more and more of your life through His eternal lenses?