Hebrews 9:27-28 NKJV
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
I read in a book once that the early church didn’t celebrate birthdays because they found life to be so painful, but rather celebrated deaths because death was the transition from this life into heaven. I know that growing up, our church celebrated funerals and called them graduations. These celebrations were filled with joyous songs because we knew that the person who had died was now in the presence of the Lord, a place we all wanted to be.
I think that how we look at life and death has changed in these passing years, and not necessarily for the better. We cling to this life as if it has some amazing value and try not to think too much about heaven which is where the true value lies. I wonder why that is. The goal of the believer has always be to leave this life where sin rules and to be present with the Lord.
I think there is a natural fear about dying. Inside we question what will happen, will we be afraid. Paul discussed this in 2 Corinthians:
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. . . . So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4, 6 NKJV
The analogy of being clothed or naked is a reference to the fact that, as creatures, we are afraid of being only a spirit, being without a body. Paul tells us that is natural because we do need a body. And we shall have one, but it won’t be this body.
Have you ever noticed that this body fights against you as a believer? That it leans toward temptation, succumbs to sin? When we understand this, we can clearly see why Paul says that we should want to be “clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.” Can you imagine living in a body that would actually obey your wishes and obey God? Can you imagine waking up everyday and knowing that you wouldn’t sin? That’s heaven!
Paul discussed the difference between those who want to be in heaven and those who cling to this earth:
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Philippians 3:18-21 NKJV
Paul gives us a comparison here, comparing those who are eager to be in heaven and those who are not. Those who are eager wait for the Savior, want to be transformed according to His working. But those who are not eager want to satisfies their lusts and set their minds on earthly things. This is a difficult passage because I can see myself here and not in a good way. There are days when I cling to this world and its stuff, as if there is value in any of that. I delude myself.
I can choose where to place my hopes, my desires, my heart. Am I longing to be with the Lord Jesus today or am I putting my feet further down in the muck of this life? Each moment the choice is mine. Heaven or earth? The choice is simple, the choosing is much, much harder. Today I want to choose heaven.