Earthly Activities

Today I heard an old argument that I disagree with.  Here’s how it goes:

Why doesn’t God just take us to heaven after we accept Christ?

— The only thing we can do on earth that we can’t do in heaven better is to bring other people to Christ.

— Therefore, we should devote our time on earth to bringing other people to Christ.

I disagree with this.  It seems to me, there are plenty of things we can do on earth that we can’t do in heaven.  Over the years, I came up with two biggies:

1.  Glorify God in suffering.

2.  Bear children.

Today, thinking about it again, I came up with several more, though I think maybe a lot of them could be classified under “Glorify God in suffering.”  Here are some:

— Withstand temptation.

— Forgive others who are sinning against us.

— Experience God’s forgiveness or someone else’s forgiveness as we are sinning.

— Exercise faith.

— Have hope.  (Three things remain:  faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.  You don’t need faith when you can see the result.  You don’t need hope when you have the object of your hope.)

— Learn patience.

I guess now I’m getting into a whole area of personal growth.  We grow through our experiences in a fallen world.

I was going to add things like “Writing a book.” to the list of things we can do on earth that we can’t do in heaven, but that’s not clear at all–I think we can still exercise Creativity in heaven.  Though will we still be able to write those heart-rending stories that touch people deeply?  Or would we be able to if we hadn’t experienced pain on earth?

I think the whole argument minimizes the many parts of my life that are not spent bringing others to Christ.  Why didn’t God just destroy the world when Adam sinned and start over?

I think there is value to be found in this life.  That I can glorify God simply by enjoying the gifts He has given me — reading a good book, enjoying a sunset, smiling at a baby.  I also think that much of God’s plan for me — the reasons he made me the person I am and put me on this earth — has nothing to do with spiritual things, necessarily.  I believe that I am being the person He made me to be when I conduct a Storytime and connect with one small child.  Or when I write something that introduces someone to a good book. 

My friend Kathe is glorifying God and fulfilling her own calling and being the person God made her to be when she grooms a dog with love in her heart.  It’s a beautiful thing to see, but I believe she’s serving God even when she does this and no other human sees her do it.

All this has gotten pretty far afield from the original argument.  What do you think?  What things can you do on earth that you can’t do better in heaven?  And why do you think God put us on earth and why does He leave us on earth?

2 Responses to “Earthly Activities”

  1. debbiegrace says:

    Thanks, Sondy, for sharing these thoughts. I missed that sermon and now I’ll have to go check it out. For the moment, I agree that we’re not just an assembly-line for believers. Even the great commission goes the next step and speaks to disciples – a word which implies a devoted follower of Christ – and training. I take that training to mean spiritual formation of the kind you have highlighted well in your list.
    Even when someone is well-along in character development and years, God doesn’t just taken them of the earth. There is something to their continued enjoyment of this life, regardless of circumstances, and our witness to that enjoyment that is important. But, I’m sure we won’t understand it completely until we come face-to-face with our creator.
    I do, however, want to add that it is important to be an agent for sharing Christ. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t. Part of that is that I haven’t connected with the “methods” most people recommend for talking about Christ with unbelievers. They aren’t “me” and the more I get to know God, they aren’t Him either. Then again, the more I get to know God, the more He gets noticed in me – whether I like it or not. That’s how I end up sharing Christ – by people asking me what the difference is and I have an opportunity to be me and be real with them.

  2. Marcy says:

    Not to answer your questions at the end — you did a pretty good job of answering those yourself anyway — but I just wanted to add that it’s not necessarily so much that His plan and His reasons aren’t all “spiritual things,” as that our definition for spiritual things is not big enough. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to dilute the term, either; it bugs me when any amazing experience is called spiritual. But certainly all “mundane” things can be done well and to God’s glory, even with no one there! He’s more important than they are, anyway. ::grin::

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