Getting to God

A popular evangelical writer stated that the goal of Christians ought not to be getting to heaven, but to God. He has a point, if we think of heaven as some magnified, enlarged earth-style existence, minus all the problems and suffering.

In another sense, however, the desire for heaven is the desire for God in its purest and ultimate form.

But to desire God in heaven, man must desire him now on earth.

God will not be found in heaven, after we pass through the day of judgment, if he is not found before that during our earthly life.

God is the goal, and he must be the goal both now and in eternity.

“Above all,” the Lord Jesus Christ tells his followers early on, “pursue his kingdom and righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 NET). To pursue God’s kingdom means to put oneself in relationship with God, to submit to his rule in one’s life. To pursue his righteousness is to live according to God’s purpose and holiness. This pursuit consumes the disciples’ energies.

The writer of Hebrews describes this pursuit simply as seeking God. Such seeking will find success, for “he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). This language of seeking God is common in the Old Testament. It expresses in shorthand form the loving and committed covenant relationship that God desires for man. When speaking of the search for God, Scripture does not hint at doubt as to the outcome.

To seek God is to seek Christ, and to seek Christ is to seek what is above. So the apostle Paul said. “Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). Heaven is a main focus of saints because that’s where Christ and God are.

These points are important to remember when dealing with current issues and false doctrines. For all the attention that saints must give to these, they must not allow anything to distract them from their goal of getting to God. “Draw near to God”( Hebrews 7:19; James 4:8).

We must also be careful that sentiments such as that expressed by the evangelical above do not play into postmodernist attitudes that emphasize the present journey over the final goal. The verse cited above in Hebrews 7:19 says more: “On the other hand a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.” It is our hope of heaven that enables us to draw near to God.

So besides saying that to desire God in heaven, we must desire him now, we must also confess that our search for God on earth hangs upon our hope that in eternity we will have drawn near to him in that final movement of full intimacy. Today’s steps toward God will reach the end of their journey in heaven.

Getting to God ties it all together, present and future. The continual search for God brings us the only meaning deep enough and sufficiently broad for a single individual throughout his life and for a mankind whose history is little more than multiple accounts of frustrated quests to satisfy mind and heart and soul.

Photo by Daniel Weber, under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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