The Christmastime Mentality
We live in a "heaven now" world, one that is in no mood to wait. It is a world that wants its blessings now, its prosperity now, its deliverance now, its healing now, its heaven now.
I'm not surprised that the world feels this way. After all, it knows nothing about hope. What surprises me is that some believers have adopted the world's philosophy.
Those whose attitude and lifestyle indicate a "heaven now" frame of mind seek out preachers who tell them we don't have to wait for heaven ... who say we can have it now, in this life. "We are God's children," they declare, "and He wants His children to have the best of everything. We are kids of the King, and a king's kids live in palaces and have plenty." What a distortion of the truth! How contrary to Scripture! How materialistic and selfish.
Such teaching measures happiness with the yardstick of "having." It says that the kingdom of heaven is meat and drink. It confesses the visible and the tangible. It parades material acquisitions as a proof of faith. Its disciples are pitiful people living in opulent poverty.
Like spoiled children at Christmastime they tear the wrappers off one blessing after another, savor the "joy of having" for a fleeting moment, and then reach for still another gift. They end their orgy of getting surrounded by gadgets and grandeur. Then, gorged but still unsatisfied, they gather together with peers of the same persuasion to compare blessings and to indulge in can-you-top-this testimonials.
And if others receive more than they, they turn in disappointment from their own blessings to claim from their Heavenly Father something bigger and better.
What a warped and childish concept of God! Can it be that He is only a divine means to satisfy selfish appetites? Is He a good God only insofar as He gives us what we want?
I pray the Lord will forgive us!
We are so immature, such babes! We know not how to pray as we ought. We pray for the wrong things. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to pray for us because He knows what God's will is, and He prays for the right things.
Thank You, Father, for understanding our childish whims, for giving us the toys that please us even when, sometimes, they are not the best for us. Thank You for letting us have our coveted plastic playthings, even though You know that pencils and schoolbooks would be better for us. Thank You for loving us and for letting us have our way, not because our way is best, but because You are confident that one day we will grow up and agree with You as to what is good for us.
But, dear Father, don't let us go on like this to our own detriment. Don't let us have our way forever. Bring discipline into our lives. Help us to learn that the kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink, is not the satisfying of sensual and selfish appetites, but is made of spiritual stuff... is a matter of knowing and being rather than having. Help us to fully accept and really believe that the kingdom of heaven is "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Please do it Father, even if we don't seem to want it. Amen.
Heaven Now Means No Hope
We are saved by hope, not by having. If we have our heaven now, we have nothing to hope for.
"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it" (Romans 8:24,25).
What a profound and sober truth! How different from the way the world looks at things! "Heaven now" is the world's cry. "Deliverance now" is their theme. Hence the world justifies violence as a means of creating a heaven on earth. Revolution becomes respectable with such a philosophy.
If a bloody means brings social betterment, then let blood be spilled, they say. This is the position of the liberation theologian. To him, waiting and hoping (the theology of the New Testament suffering Church) is unacceptable. Turning the other cheek, enduring affliction, returning good for evil... all these are the babble of Bible believers who are out of touch with the real world." "Relevant religion," the liberation theologian says, "demands heaven now!"
But what are we going to do with the Scripture that says we are saved by hope? Present realization, the "heaven now" philosophy, can rob us of the very thing that saves us! We are not saved by present realization. We are saved by hope.
Let's face it. Those who have their heaven now have little reason to hope. You don't find many of them that are "longing to go!"
Perhaps you are saying, "What a hard-hearted, callous attitude! Are you saying that the poor should be content in their poverty? Are you saying that the oppressed should not resist tyranny? Are you saying that the afflicted should rejoice in spite of their infirmities?"
Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying, and I'm saying it on good authority. The Bible says it. If you have an argument about this, argue with God.
The man who prayed that others might prosper and be in health was a Patmos prisoner whose happiness and health was hope.
The man who said, "My God shall supply all your needs," wore his wardrobe on his back. He was sustained by hope and warmed himself by the fires of expectation! His joy was the joy of anticipation and, because of the reality of heaven, he said, "Gladly will I suffer!" You see, he was a disciple of the One who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Those who are determined to have their heaven now need to take a better look at their Bibles. I know Jesus heals now and that He delivers now. These marvelous and miraculous interventions on behalf of God's children are an "earnest" of the believer's inheritance, a foretaste of heaven to come. God does heal; God does deliver; but not at the expense of hope. Hope is the bottom line. Hope is where it's at.
Hope is more important than healing. It is not healing that saves. It is not deliverance that saves. It is hope that saves! If everybody were healed now, if everybody were to prosper now, if everything negative were removed now, then hope would be meaningless.
I'm glad for the "earnest of our inheritance" that the Holy Spirit, through His gifts, brings to us. I rejoice in testimonies of healing and deliverance. But I am aware that, when all is said and done, there will be thousands who are still oppressed and hundreds who still suffer. Am I to point my finger at an undelivered saint and rebuke him for lack of faith? Am I to put a guilt trip on a cripple because I have been blessed with a healing and he has not? Dare I forget those who died in the faith "not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection?" No! A thousand times, no.
I will pray for the sick. I will pray for the oppressed. Like Jesus, I will preach the gospel to the poor. I will preach deliverance to the captives, and the recovering of sight to the blind, and liberty to the bruised.
Not only that. I will share with them my material blessings. But even as I do so, I will do it with the knowledge that many of them will continue to groan, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of their bodies ... living in hope until that day.
Therefore, my message to the lost and to a groaning world is not heaven now. As a missionary, I am not called to export American affluence and lifestyle. My message is a message of hope. Hope will give men happiness in a wheelchair. Hope will give men contentment in the presence of poverty. Hope will keep men's eyes on the unseen and the eternal.
To the best of my ability I will alleviate men's present distresses, but with all my heart I will preach hope. Why? Because present deliverance is not what will save them. They will be saved by hope.