One of the risks of an eternal mind-set is that we check out on this life. As Christians we can be guilty of adopting an “us-versus-them” mentality, reminding ourselves that this world is not ours and that we are citizens of another land.
These ideas are true. But the point is not that our circumstances are irrelevant. The point isn’t that we can simply tell people that “God has a wonderful plan for they lives” so they shouldn’t worry about how rotten their circumstances are. That is not biblical, eternal thinking.
Eternal thinking is realizing that our circumstances matter to God, but they matter in the context of eternity. It is realizing that this life and how we physically and emotionally experience it is not all there is. When we invest ourselves in the world, we should always remember that our investment must have an opportunity for eternal consequence in addition to its worth while temporal impact
When we think with an eternal mind, we can evaluate “importance” by a different standard. During law school my wife and I moved to Ireland for a summer of study. We rented a house in Dublin and set up a life. But the life we set up was temporary. We knew we would be leaving that life in a couple of months, so we focused on different things. We didn’t make improvements to our house. We didn’t buy furniture or worry about the comfort of our beds. We didn’t worry about the economy of Ireland or its politics. We didn’t put things off or wait to do thing until the weekend.
We lived deeply and totally immersed ourselves in the culture, people and places. We met new friends and built relationships with an incredible intensity. We travelled every weekend, stayed out late every night, and got up early every morning. Our goal was to squeeze every ounce of experience and impact out of our time that we could.
The knowledge that we were sojourners living in a foreign land for a short period and that our citizenship was of a different country didn’t make us less invested, it made us more invested, but with a different perspective and set of values.
In the same way, when we have an eternal perspective on this life, we invest differently than when we begin to live like an think that this is our home. Because we are allied to have an eternal perspective, we should never focus primarily on that which is not eternal. Because our citizenship is not here, we must be careful to guard against building a home where we should only erect a tent.
Does this mean we should do nothing that helps people merely in the here and now, that everything we think, do and say must be tied explicitly to eternity? No. But it does create a focus that allows our decision making process to be based on biblical principles.
Every once in a while it is important to stop and ask, “Is what I am doing today going to last into eternity?”