We Americans take for granted things that our ancestors didn’t even know about. Central heating, running water in our homes. Indoor showers and toilets. Electricity providing lights and entertainment. Telephones and, in more recent years, internet, email, texting and social media. Grocery stores, clothing stores, Sam’s Clubs and Costco, gas stations, barber and beauty shops, restaurants and dollar stores. Cars, trucks and airline flights to wherever. Accessible medical and dental care. The list goes on and on.
Beyond that, we here in America have assumed we are entitled to be protected 24/7/365 by our leaders in our cities, states and nation from all enemies foreign and domestic. That our laws and governments will be ever vigilant to preserve our liberties and allow us the quality of life to enjoy until we die.
So when a pandemic strikes and our government seems greatly conflicted and at odds with itself, we become anxious and then angry. We find ourselves thinking: “I deserve better!”
Really? Who says you deserve better?
“Well, I pay my taxes and vote and pay all the vendors that serve me. So I AM entitled to all these comforts of modern life!”
Friends, those of us who claim to be Christ-followers in America have been given a loving wakeup call from our Lord. Do you realize that a 70 year life is less than 26,000 days? But eternity goes on forever. We have put way too much stock in this temporary life on this planet and far too little on our eternal home in heaven.
Why haven’t we obeyed the command God gave us through Paul in Colossians 3:1-4, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
We have, little-by-little, become like the folks Paul grieves about in Philippians 3:18-21 as he compares them with true Christ-followers: “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Ah, but you say, people that concentrate on heaven are essentially no earthly good. Listen to what C.S. Lewis said about that phony perspective:
“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither. It seems a strange rule, but something like it can be seen at work in other matters. Health is a great blessing, but the moment you make health one of your main, direct objects you start becoming a crank and imagining there is something wrong with you. You are only likely to get health provided you want other things more—food, games, work, fun, open air. In the same way, we shall never save civilization as long as civilization is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more. . . . Sadly, many of us are so tethered to this world and the things it offers that we scarcely take thought of the world to come. Yet it is precisely by reflecting often on the joys, beauties, and satisfactions of eternal life in the world to come that we find a hope that empowers us to live fully for Christ today.”
Even here in America, we may not only lose the comforts we feel we are entitled to, we may actually come to a time of persecution for our faith. Jesus predicted it for his followers in John 15:18-20, and Paul mentions it in 2 Timothy 3:12.
We need to trust that, despite all the temporary pain we experience, our God will protect us and provide for our basic needs of food and clothing until He takes us to His forever home in heaven.
It is counter-intuitive, but the pain He allows in our lives can actually drive us to find real life with Him! Because real life begins when we quit trying to live to protect ourselves and begin to daily surrender our lives completely to Him and, by faith, abide in His loving and powerful Presence.