As is often the way when I’m thinking about a blog post, my thoughts on a couple of things seemed to converge.
A few weeks ago, this little paragraph caught my eye.
My thoughts were as follows:
“Humph, not him again, what’s he saying now?”
“Everything he stands for is opposite to my Christian beliefs!”
“…WAIT – isn’t this how I think too?”
Ignore Dawkin’s comments on the abortion issue for now, sad as they are, and look at the way his view on morality is summarised:
“to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering”
Isn’t this how we think? Not just on moral issues, but about everything (or is it just me?)
This is the attitude of the world around us, and actually it’s a view that makes perfect sense.
If there is no God, and nothing after death.
Even the Bible reasons this way – If this life is all we’ve got, let us “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15)
I didn’t come to any conclusions that day, but I felt uneasy that this might be an accurate summary – perhaps not of my morality, but of my general aims in life.
…Then someone asked me what the Bible says about what happens when we die.
Whilst searching desiringgod.org (an immensely helpful website – do check it out if you haven’t already), I found an article that mentioned this verse:
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 2 Corinthians 5:6-9
My brain suddenly made a connection between the two.
I knew that living only to increase my happiness and reduce my suffering wasn’t enough, I knew it wasn’t a particularly biblical way of viewing things either, but look how this verse helps us to see how we should be thinking:
‘As long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.’
‘[We] would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord’
‘We live by faith, not by sight’
‘We make it our goal to please him’
This attitude to living is not based primarily on experiences or feelings, but on a person – Jesus Christ. Because of him the Christian’s aims and response to life, whether in happiness or suffering, are very different.
We want to go home! We long to be with Christ, even if suffering is the path that takes us there. Our goal is to please him, whether that leads to earthly happiness or not, because we look forward to eternal joy in his presence!
Pastor and theologian Wayne Grudem says “the world’s goal of preserving one’s own physical life at all cost is not the highest goal for a Christian: obedience to God and faithfulness to him in every circumstance is far more important”
Have you thought about how radical we’re called to be in this area if we are followers of Jesus?
Now, I don’t relish suffering any more than anyone else, and yet, at the end of my life I don’t want to say “I found a measure of happiness and avoided any major suffering”.
In the light of eternity, this would be so small and meaningless!
With God’s help, Nim the cowardly comfort-seeker wants to be able to say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:6-7 and “My desire is to depart and to be with Christ, for that is far better.” Philippians 1:23
I pray that God would continue his work to make our attitudes worthy of Christ and our eternal future with him.