Hearts Set on Heaven
Read Colossians 3:1 (NIV)
Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
How would your daily life change if you focused more on the reality of heaven?
Do you know where in the world Christianity is growing the fastest? Organizations such as Operation World track statistics on countries to provide informational prayer guides for Christians. One of the stats they track is the growth and decline of Christianity. It might surprise you to know the two countries with the greatest rate of growth are Iran and Afghanistan. How is it possible that the Gospel is growing so fast in areas of extreme terrorism and persecution? I believe the answer lies in where the people have chosen to set their hearts.
In today’s verse, Paul says that we have been raised with Christ so our focus should be on heavenly things. If our Savior is in heaven, our hearts should be there with Him. If our hearts are set on heaven, our priorities here on earth change. We begin concentrating on things that matter for eternity more than we focus on things that are temporary.
In places like Iran and Afghanistan, the luster of the things of this world are stripped away. People see first-hand just how fragile life is. It doesn’t matter how much money they make or how successful they are at their careers if it can all be taken from them tomorrow. It doesn’t matter how successful their kids are in sports or music or school if their children are targets for the enemy. Beautiful houses and dream vacations likely do not consume their thoughts when they are faced with the reality of death every day. Instead of setting their hearts on the hopes of this world, Christians living in highly persecuted areas set their hearts on heaven.
Here in the United States and in other mostly peaceful places, we have the luxury of dreaming earthly dreams. But the problem with that is that we tend to buy into the lie that we can make our own heaven here on earth. In fact, many Christians in the United States have made the “American Dream” an idol. Because of that, we focus on temporary things that hinder our relationship with our Savior. We want to pursue Jesus but we also want to pursue the shiny stuff around us.
So while the Gospel message is exploding in areas of high persecution, it is just crawling along in areas of affluence and ease. In the US, we keep seeing high profile Christians “deconstructing” their faith. Why does this keep happening? Because we have not set our hearts on things above. We are living for earth instead of heaven.
In Luke 12:13-20, Jesus told a parable about a man who was living for earth instead of setting his sights on heaven. He was so rich that he ran out of room to store his crops. He planned on building bigger barns to store his grain. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself” (Luke 12:20).
Jesus’ brother James said something similar when he spoke about making plans for the future. Many of us are very presumptuous when we make plans. “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).
Friends, our lives here on earth are a mist that is here today and gone tomorrow. When we fully understand that this world has nothing of eternal value and that everything we gain here can be taken from us in an instant, then, we realize the all-surpassing value of the things of heaven. Christ gave us an eternal life! Set your hearts on heaven and watch your priorities change.
Lord, remind me that this world has nothing for me. Everything I build or plan for myself here can be taken away in an instant. But You have promised me so much more. I know that in You, I have eternal life with You and it will be glorious. Beyond anything I can imagine. Keep my heart set on that reality. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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