The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

You Can’t Take It With You, But You Can Send It Ahead

Posted on: November 07, 2017


This life is not about this life. This life is about the next life. And we are to live this life in preparation for the next.

Colossians 3:1-3 says,

 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 

Now, of course, we are free to enjoy the things of this life that God gives us in this life (1 Timothy 6:17), and we are to help make this world a better place in which to live (James 2:15-16).

As C. S. Lewis said, If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely 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.”

But as the old spiritual song says, “This world is not our home, we’re just passing through.” We are to do all the good we can in this world and for this world, but

this world is not where we are to place our hopes, this world is not where we are to keep our hearts, this world is not where we will receive the rewards that God promises for a life well-lived.

So, one of the most important things a Christian can do is cultivate an eye – and develop a taste – for the next world, creating an eternal perspective.

Randy Alcorn has two excellent illustrations for this in his book, The Treasure Principle. First, he writes,

Imagine you’re alive at the end of the Civil War. You’re living in the South, but you’re a northerner. You plan to move home as soon as the war is over. While in the South you’ve accumulated lots of Confederate currency. Now, suppose you know for a fact that the North is going to win the war and the end is imminent. What would you do with all your Confederate money? If you’re smart, there’s only one answer. You should immediately cash in your Confederate currency for US currency – the only money that will have value once the war is over. Keep only enough Confederate currency to meet your short-term needs. (13)

Later in the book, he writes:

Where we choose to store our treasures depends largely on where we think our home is. Suppose your home is in France and you’re visiting America for three months, living in a hotel. You’re told that you can’t bring anything back to France on your flight home. But you can earn money and mail deposits to your bank back in France. Would you fill your hotel room with expensive furniture and wall hangings? Of course not. You would send your money where your home is. You would spend only what you needed on the emergency residence, sending your treasures ahead so they’d be waiting for you when you got home. (45)

To cultivate an eternal perspective is to nurture the conscious reality that everything we do in this life affects our next life forever, and to develop the skill of embracing attitudes, values, and behavior based on their eternal consequences.

Missionary Jim Elliott said it as well as it can be said: “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep in order to gain that which he cannot lose.”

And this has to do not only with how we use our money, but also with how we use our time and talents.

But it’s a real trick to live this way consistently. We are, by nature, so focused on the “here and now.” Like the grasshopper that plays while the weather is nice and then has nothing stored up for winter – as the ant does – we tend to hop blissfully around in this life, ignoring the wisdom of preparing for the next.

William Gladstone, who served as Prime Minister in England four times during the latter half of the 19th Century, was a committed Christian. Shortly before he died, he gave a speech in which he told about being visited by an ambitious young man who sought his advice about life:

“What do you hope to do when you graduate from college?” Gladstone asked.

The young man replied, “I hope to attend law school, sir, just as you did.”

“That’s a noble goal,” said Gladstone, “Then what?”

“I hope to practice law and make a good name for myself defending the poor and the outcasts of society, just as you did.”

“That’s a noble purpose,” replied Gladstone. “Then what?”

“Well, sir, I hope one day to stand for Parliament and become a servant of the people, even as you did.”

“That too is a noble hope. What then?” asked Gladstone.

“I would hope to be able to serve in the Parliament with great distinction, evidencing integrity and a concern for justice — even as you did.”

“What then?” asked Gladstone.

“I would hope to serve the government as Prime Minister with the same vigor, dedication, vision, and integrity as you did.”

“And what then?” asked Gladstone.

“I would hope to retire with honors and write my memoirs — even as you are presently doing — so that others could learn from my mistakes and triumphs.”

“All of that is very noble,” said Gladstone, “and then what?”

The young man thought for a moment. “Well, sir, I suppose I will then die.”

“That’s correct,” said Gladstone. “And then what?”

The young man looked puzzled. “Well, sir,” he answered hesitantly, “I’ve never given that any thought.”

“Young man,” Gladstone responded, “the only advice I have for you is for you to go home, read your Bible, and think about eternity.”

That is our challenge as Christians,

to read our Bible and think about eternity, cultivating our capacity to prepare for the next world while living in this one.

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