The Value of Now

As I write about what the Bible has to say about what can happen after our deaths, I often struggle to find a word or words that refer to our current state of existence. If I use the word “life”, I collide with how the Bible uses the word “life” to refer to our eternal existence with God. Paul even says that our existence with God after our deaths is “life that is truly life”. It implies that our current existence doesn’t really deserve the title of “life”.

There are many negatives that are true about existence as we know it. We all possess a sinful nature. This is probably a corruption of our God-given genetic code that makes understanding God without help impossible. It also leaves us with behaviors and desires that are contrary to what is truly good. Put sinful people on a planet together and you get family dysfunction, crime, war and many forms of misery.

This “life” also is diminished by “the curse”. I’m not sure if it is a punishment from God or just what happens when the original couple of humans reject God. The result is a separation from God that clouds our relationship with Him, an uncooperative environment, natural disasters, illness and many other forms of danger and frustration.

One last scourge is that this world is “given” to Satan. Satan himself claims this as he tempts Jesus in the wilderness. Beyond this Satan and his cronies are cast out of Heaven (Revelation 12:7-9), and where does he land? Here. Can’t be anywhere else away from us? This gives the extra kicker to human misery.

With this toxic stew, it should not be surprising if life has its challenges. Do not assume that this life will be fair, safe or happy. If we manage periods of any of these then we are truly blessed. They are not promised.

That said, we are not kept here for the sake of misery. Life has its purpose. First and foremost, it is during our brief stay here that Christ will connect with us and give us something better. Still, we are not translated into Heaven the moment we become Christians.

We have work to do. Our God-given purpose will be unique to this period of our existence. In Heaven and the New Earth, we will have purpose, and we will enjoy that purpose thoroughly. But our current purpose has a unique quality that makes now valuable.

Here, when we worship God in spirit and truth, we do so in an environment with none of the advantages of being with God in Heaven, and God knows it. He values worship like that. When we maintain a personal, respectful, trusting relationship with God despite the curse, it is a big deal.

This world is filled with the wounded who need help. There won’t be any in Heaven and the New Earth. This planet is out of sync and all living things suffer in some way because of it. When we are good stewards of the Earth, we bring healing.

Here is where you will be in contact with the spiritual lost. Your words and example can help to lead people to Christ. No one will need that in Heaven.

This world is a mess and it can be painful to live in it, but because it is a mess there is extra value to our service here. If, foolishly, you live here as if this is all there is and you neglect your God-given purpose to simply live to entertain yourself, then you are blowing it. Your pleasures will be limited. Your deeds will not follow you.

Because of the uniquely needy nature of this world and the creatures in it, I am asking for a long and productive life. I am willing to stay here as long as God wants me here, and no longer. I cherish what good times and good relationships I have here, because they help me through. I know that there will be much better to come. But I make the most positive difference now.

Author: tdwenig

Tom is the Senior Pastor of the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer in Evansville, IN. He has served his congregation since 2000. He has a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO

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