Friday, May 29, 2015

Heaven On Earth is a Fantasy

The result for many who aim at finding Heaven on Earth.
 I grew up learning that if I worked hard enough I could have anything I wanted in life.  Was this advice the true "secret of life?"  I could not help but daydream of a future life in which I had a lot of money, a nice home, vacations all around the world, and everything I wanted.  I figured that if I worked hard during school and set out to find the job of my dreams afterwards that the money and lifestyle would just roll in.  In short, I was looking to create my heaven on Earth.  To tell the truth, I was sorely disappointed when I found that such a thing does not exist.

After spending ten years in college and going out to look for my dream job, I found that such a thing is a fantasy.  This fantasy is propagated by television and the media as well as the cultural myth that college + hard work = success in life.  I have seen countless movies that show images of college graduates and hard working people rising to the top.  They have fast cars, huge homes, beautiful gardens, luxury surroundings, and pretty much all that you desire.  We grow up, being bombarded with these images and start to believe that they are obtainable if we just work hard enough.  Yet, day by day we toil and years pass by and we wonder why we are not obtaining the things we saw on television and in the movies.  We find ourselves quickly growing older and oftentimes cynical at the idea that we will likely not obtain the things we dream of.

Yet, sometimes a cog is thrown in the wheel.  We may see a 'get rich quick scheme' or something that says that we can have it all.  Maybe an e-mail appears in our inbox or a seminar is advertised where others have done what we wanted.  There is hope! we cry, thinking that such a lifestyle will be ours finally.

Sadly, the "get rich quick" mentality has appeared on the internet as well.  Websites and blogs tell of people who make vast incomes using methods on the internet.  If you work hard enough, the claim goes, you can get rich using methods of making money online.  Now, I do realize that some people have been able to make a lot of money by creating websites and offering online services.  However, the lifestyle that is portrayed I have found largely to be a fantasy.

Many people are graduating college with the expectation that they will be wealthy and have the life that they grew up dreaming about.  I was once one of these people and the reality that manifested itself to me was unemployment and regret.  I found that a college degree does not equal wealth.  In fact, there are many variables to consider when it comes to earning wealth in this life.  Consider the following quote in Ecclesiastes, which explains it better than I can:
I returned and saw under the sun that-- 
The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.
(Ecclesiastes 9:11) 
How true this is.  I have seen men and women who have little skill rise up in riches and people of great skill and talent who die in poverty.  Educated individuals sometimes never find the wealth that they educated themselves to obtain while those who never bothered with education have been handed companies and inheritances that make them rise to the top echelons of society.  This is how Earthly life is, and it shows to me that Heaven is not on Earth.  Even all the hard work and talent in the world does not guarantee you wealth and success.  This, of course, does not mean that you should not try, after all, the verse before says: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10) and Proverbs speaks greatly about not being lazy and being wise. For example, Proverbs 6:6 states "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise."  However, one can not go through life and expect to gain the riches that the media has promised you.

Heaven on Earth Does Not Exist

Even the greatest mansions become ruins.
Many of us are jealous of those who have wealth and success in life.  Yet jealousy and want are not of the Lord, who has promised us everything we ask of Him.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (James 3:16).  In fact, I have found that I was often jealous of those who had lives that I would never want to live.  Some people are blessed with great wealth and success, but lack the wealth that a life of service to Jesus offers.  Some people are blessed with huge homes and large tracts of lands but have diseases and family issues that they battle all of their lives.  What good is an expensive fast car when, like all material things, it will one day be lost?  What good is the biggest mansion in the world when one day you will die?  What good is the fame that you crave when one day you will likely be forgotten?  Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, And the end of mirth may be grief (Proverbs 14:13).

Look around at the world and ask yourself, who is truly happy?  Do you see the people who obtained wealth and influence?  Are they truly happy with their lives?  Presidents and people of power are often overstressed and long for time to be free.  Celebrities oftentimes turn to drugs or find themselves in jail.  Many people crave love and fellowship with people and find themselves purchasing that love which they crave.  Men of business find themselves exhausted, not able to spend time with their loved ones.  Sure, they have huge homes, but some also have strong addictions to alcohol and drugs.  We ask ourselves, "why? -- Why if you are so rich and have so much would you turn to drugs?"  Even the material things of this earth do not bring happiness.

Think back to when you got something that you wanted for a very long time.  Perhaps it was a new iPhone or maybe a certain car.  Maybe you closed on the home that you had been dreaming about.  Did you find that you were always happy after that purchase?  Or, did a better phone come on the market?  He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase, this is also vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5:10).  Did you find that your car eventually broke down or had to be sold?  Did the home bring you lasting happiness, or did you find it to be a burden?  Did you have to sell or lose sleep over the idea that it could be foreclosed upon or broken in to?  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (Matthew 6:19-20).  Jesus Himself spoke this and it is to be a reminder that the things of this Earth, the material things, are to not concern us.  Jesus even stated that "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4).  Even bread, one of the most basic foods that we eat, is not important compared to the Word of God.  How less important than is the lifestyle that many of us spend years toiling over?  I find myself ashamed to think that I spent ten years making an idol out of education and of obtaining a cultural myth instead of storing up treasure in Heaven and serving the Lord.

Heaven on Earth does not exist.  Jesus knew that.  He preached it both in word and in his lifestyle.  He did not secure Himself a home.  And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. (Luke 9:58).  Jesus was born the son of a carpenter, not at an inn, but in a manger.  He did not toil to earn money or wealth.  He aimed only to glorify His father in Heaven and to teach others how to gain eternal life.

All around us we see death and destruction.  Wars and famine come and go.  Droughts cause the land to dry up.  People battle each other for possessions in and out of court.  Divorces tear apart marriages.  Families argue and bicker.  Our most beloved possessions are sometimes the target of thieves.  Disease eats at us.  Accidents break us.  Agility and stamina is whittled away by age.  We grow slower over the years, looking back at all we obtained and realizing it was all vanity.  We can not take what we have to the grave with us, and for some, it may cost us more than the time we put into it.  Some people have chosen material goods over Heaven.  The story of the Rich Young Ruler is a good example of this.
17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. 
23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus *answered again and *said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:17-27)
This story has a lesson.  Many people find that wealth is more important than walking with Jesus. Some would trade eternal life for the things of this Earth.  Perhaps God has not given me the wealth I once desired because it would be a burden for me.  In short, God has done the greatest thing He could do for me - shown me that there is no Heaven here on Earth.  That the true Heaven is with Him. There is no Heaven where death and disease are present.  Where sin is present God will not establish His eternal kingdom.  Sin and God do not coexist, and I would never want to spend eternity in a place where sin was present.  There is no Heaven on Earth.  The idea that Heaven is on Earth is a myth, one that the devil has been exceedingly cunning in propagating and fooling people, especially (but not only) young people into believing.  Age shows to most that none of it matters.  The wise realize that it is all vanity.  The most wise will understand this when they are young, before they chase all that is vanity under the sun.

This is but a glimpse of what God has in store for us.
There is a Real Heaven

Do not fret though.  You can have everything you have always wanted.  Jesus promises: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8).  This applies to you right now.  God will answer your prayers if you ask.  Will He answer every prayer?  Not in the way we think that He will.  For example, I do not believe that God answers prayers that go against Him.  For example, you can not ask for your worst enemy to die and expect it to be answered.  I also do not think that someone who comes to God and prays for something that will cause them to stumble or lose faith in Christ will have their prayer answered.  And not every prayer is answered the first time.  Sometimes we have to ask over and over again.  Sometimes, as we ask God for something we find that we no longer want it.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit shows us that what we thought we wanted is not good for us.  Sometimes our own studies lead us to the conclusion that what we thought we wanted is not what we should ask God for.  Yet Jesus promises that we shall have what we desire if we ask.  We should all be asking, right now, that we can be with Jesus in Heaven.  We should ask that over and over again and seek first the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6:33)

There is indeed a real Heaven, and that is where we should be longing to go.  Our time on Earth, compared to eternity, is very short.  It may seem long right now, but in 300,000 years it will seem like a blink of an eye.  In 1,000,000,000,000 years it will seem as nothing at all.  And in 10100 years we will marvel at how we could have wanted what we did in this life.  These numbers may seem mind boggling to you.  Many homes do not last 150 years.  Many people do not keep a car longer than 10 years.  Most people probably trade it off well before it gets to that point.  Why not look forward to a mansion that will last you for eternity?  Why not look forward to the ultimate friend who will never betray or fight with you?  Why not look forward to a body that will never break down? Why not long for a mind that will always increase in knowledge instead of eventually falling prey to senility?

If you are longing for Heaven, you are not alone.  Avoid the temptation to make your Heaven here on Earth.  It is important to make your life as good as it can be, but storing up possessions on Earth will never bring you happiness.  Instead, your life should be spent on trying to be helpful, thoughtful and being an overall blessing in other's lives.  You do not need to fan the flames of pride or manifest envy towards the things that others have.  Your time on Earth should be spent in being a beacon for God, a helpful and caring individual.  This does not mean that you should not have nice things, but realize that they are merely things and that they will not last.  They should be tools in which to make you a better person - not to make you feel better than others.  Do not lament your life if you do not obtain the riches of this world.  They are not worth your time.  Prepare yourself for Heaven - after all, that is what we are to do on this Earth.  Follow Christ's example and pray to Him that you will overcome the idea that life is for accumulating wealth.  You will likely see, over and over again, the cultural myth that "you can have it all" here on Earth.  Nobody has it all, and sometimes those who have the most on Earth care nothing at all about the things of the life that we should all be looking forward to.

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