Wednesday, June 20, 2012

If You Believe in Heaven...

I recently read a blog which sited 11 rules for aging and one of the rules stated: "if you believe in Heaven, start acting like it". It went on to say that as you age you shouldn't become bitter but instead, you should reach out to others and be 'humane' to 'humans', doing kind deeds and good works. I agree with most of what the author said but I take exception to the premise that one must be old to begin acting the way we all should be acting at any age. 

Many people say they are Christians, followers of Christ, but they live lives that are far from the lifestyle of Christ. Instead of love and forgiveness coming out of their mouths, bitterness, hatred and jealousy are the norm. They're not showing the world around them that they really believe what they profess to believe. If we say we believe in Heaven, that God has a home prepared for us there, where we will dwell with Him forever, then why do we spend our lives acquiring material possessions which we cannot take with us when we leave this earth, this temporary home? Our actions speak louder than our words.

If we believe in Heaven then we should be showing the world around us that we do, not just telling them. We need to reach out to those around us. We need to care for those which society has marginalized. We need to love the unlovely. We need to act like we are Christians; disciples or students of Christ. Instead of constantly accumulating 'things' we need to practice giving away and living on less. I have a friend who regularly practices this. Whenever someone comes into her home and admires an item there, such as an ornament or picture or whatever, she gives it away to them. They are usually quite reluctant to accept such a generous gift but she explains that it gives her more joy to see how much it means to them than for her to keep it for herself. 

I have tried to live by this same rule and have raised our children to be the same way. When they were younger and still had a toy box, we would go through the toy box every November and discard the broken toys and pare down their toy collection by donating several toys to The Red Cross or The Salvation Army to be distributed to needy children. It was a good practice. All of our children are generous to others and I am thankful for that but I believe that such things as generosity need to be taught to children, it is not something that usually comes naturally. 

If you believe in Heaven, then you should be looking for ways to show others that you do. It's one thing to say "I am a Christian and you should be too" but it's another thing to make people want to be a Christian simply by them seeing that you have a genuine faith that is not only words, but is backed up by the things you do and the way you live your life. Please don't misunderstand me, I know that we are not saved by our works, that's contrary to Scripture, but we show that we are followers of Christ, true Christians, by our actions. 

If we are willing to live a selfless life in a very selfish world, then we will be living as Christ lived. If we put others ahead of ourselves and if we look for ways to show a kindness or to meet a need, then we will show the world that we follow Christ. I can say all I want that I don't believe it will rain today but if I am walking around carrying an umbrella and wearing rubber boots, then you wouldn't believe me would you? No, of course not. If we say we believe that Christ is coming any day now, then we should be acting like it and not living as if we have all the time in the world, making long ranging plans that have no place in them for the things of the Lord. Our actions tell the truth; our words sometimes don't.  If we say we believe in Heaven, then we do, indeed, need to act like it. 

Now someone may argue, "Some people have faith; others have good deeds." But I say, "How can you show me your faith if you don't have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds." James 2:18

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