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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


Daily Boost

January 24, 2014 - Heavenly Minded and Earthly Good

By George P. Wood

Are Christians so heavenly minded that they're of no earthly good?

In Revelation 7:9 John saw "a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb" (ESV).

What are the characteristics of this vast church John sees in his vision? They are "standing … clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb'" (7:9,10).

Each characteristic is weighty with significance. They are standing because, unlike the great ones of the earth (6:15-17), they are "coming out of the great tribulation" (7:14). Their clothes are white — a symbol of forgiveness of sins and righteousness before God — because they "have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

Their palm branches recall the festive shouts of Palm Sunday: "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luke 19:38). And their song of praise is the only appropriate response of those whom God has safely led through this earthly vale of tears.

Ever since Marx derided religion as the opiate of the people, it has been fashionable among some intellectuals to criticize Christianity for being so heavenly minded that it is of no earthly good. I suppose some believers fall into that trap. Certainly I have heard about Christians so concerned with the next life that they fail to perform their duties in this one. And yet, as I read about the great multitude, I cannot help but notice how important a belief in heaven nonetheless is.

The fact of the matter is that life is often difficult. The 20th century produced more Christian martyrs than the preceding 1,900 years of church history. For many of our brothers and sisters around the globe, persecution, poverty and political powerlessness are facts of life.

We American Christians are so blessed with numerous earthly benefits that we tend to lose sight of heaven. If persecution, poverty and powerlessness came to us, I wonder how we would respond. What resources would we have to resist the temptations of despair and hopelessness?

Heaven is one of those resources. There, God himself "will shelter them with his presence" (Revelation 7:15) from the effects of hunger, thirst, sun and heat. In a marvelously paradoxical image, John says that "the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water" (7:17). But to me, the most powerful image is the last: "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

It is easy to live the Christian life and exercise salt-and-light influence on our world under American conditions. It is not so easy in many other places. The comfort of heaven ultimately helps us live better lives here because it infuses us with hope.

As C.S. Lewis once wrote, hope is "a continual looking forward to the eternal world. … It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just 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. Aim at Heaven, and you will get earth 'thrown in'; aim at earth and you will get neither."

— George Paul Wood is director of Ministerial Resourcing for the Assemblies of God and author of The Daily Word online devotionals.




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