READ: Psalm 145, Matthew 27, Hebrews 9

HEAVEN IS FOR COWARDS

Hebrews 9:24 reminds us that the Jesus things of earth are copies, that what is true awaits us in heaven, that the unmitigated and uninterrupted presence of God will only be fully realized when we get to our eternal home. In this way heaven beckons us all: rest for the weary, refuge for the innocent, deliverance for the oppressed, healing for the wounded, peace for the warriors. Something in us ought to long to be in the completed presence of God. We should yearn and hope and dream and ache for heaven. Heaven is for the courageous, for the redeemed who trusted in Jesus and look to Him as their forever reward.

Sometimes I rise from sleep weary, physically and spiritually exhausted at the size and difficulty of the task of world evangelism. I sit on my Cairo apartment balcony in the morning with a pounding headache after another tormented night of bad dreams. Nursing a cup of tea, I review the day and all its demands, sigh, and wish again that I could step from earth and into the arms of Jesus. Nothing is as attractive to me as heaven, for reasons both good and bad. The good reasons for heaven I listed above in part, but there is also a bad reason for wanting to go to heaven: If I am tired of fighting, if I am frustrated at the slow response, if I am angry at the unrepentant and just want to leave them to their foolish choices, if I just want to escape the unrelenting weariness of daily battle, then heaven has been reduced to a cowardly escape, attractive because I don’t have to fight anymore.

To run from battle is both foolish and cowardly. To leave the innocent unprotected is criminal and despicable. Yet often my desire for heaven is based on these selfish ambitions. We must live with the dual passions: longing for our heavenly home and our determination to fight for our friends and lost loved ones. The only reason I am interested in one more breath on this earth is because there are more than a billion Muslims, a billion Hindus, hundreds of millions of Buddhists, Secularists, and Animists who do not have the promise of God’s presence ahead of them. Earth has no attraction for me outside of fighting on with Christ for the souls of men and women. The best things of earth (the beauty of creation, the richness of friendship, the glory of unity and brotherhood, etc.) are only copies of the real thing. Mountains will be higher, lakes clearer, trees greener, flowers brighter, friendships deeper, music sweeter, rest purer, and joy fuller in heaven than any of its copies here on earth. “Oh, I long to see Him, look upon His face.” There is but one reason I am at peace with that vision deferred–that my Muslim friends and neighbors might see Him, too.

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