Many of us grew up with a heavy dose of heaven hymnology.
Sing To Me Of Heaven
When We All Get To Heaven
In The Sweet By And By
Beyond The Sunset
Face To Face With Christ My Savor
There’s A Land That Is Fairer Than Day
To Canaan’s Land I’m On My Way
There Is A Habitation
Great songs, and for some, heaven is thought of as the natural conclusion and climax to a life filled with a growing faith, lived for God here on planet earth. But sadly for others, this longing for a future home in heaven is not really connected to life here in the present world. Habits remain the same. Plans for each day are not altered by a developing faith. Speech, relationships, behavior do not surrender to the spiritual leadership of Jesus. In fact, once the “salvation” ticket is punched, life continued on just as it has been, with little or no growth or change.
A friend of mine once asked the question, “What’s the difference between a man with ten years of experience and a man with one year of experience, ten times?” The answer? The man with tens year of experience actually grew each year. There was a slow but steady change in his life as one year built upon the progress of the previous year. But the man with one year of experience, ten times, just repeated his first year over and over. There was no real change. He was in a rut. He probably hated it, but as we sometimes say, “He had become adjusted to his rut.” It was familiar, even comfortable in a twisted sort of way. I think that popular writer Brian McLaren had the first man in mind when he said,
The Gospel is not an evacuation plan
but a transformation plan
Other, much older writers follow the same line of thought.
Heaven is not to be looked upon
only as the reward,
but as the natural effect
of a religious life.
— Joseph Addison
The main object of religion
is not to get a man into Heaven;
but to get Heaven into him.
— Thomas Hardy
Do not conform any longer
to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed
by the renewing of your mind.
— Romans 12:2
Will heaven be a ticket that I purchase and then put away until the day that I have to pull it out at the end of my life? Or, will heaven be the next logical, seamless step in a life that has been constantly growing and changing since the first day that God’s grace entered? Is your faith an evacuation plan or a transformation plan?