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Is it better to live here on earth or is it better to be in heaven with Jesus?  To live here on earth means that we
experience pain, suffering, difficulty and sorrow.  We have to live in a wretched world full of
sin and misery.  Disease, sickness,depression, hatred and selfishness characterize our daily lives.  But in heaven none of this exists.  There is no sorrow, pain or sin.  Heaven is a holy place.  So is there really a question as to which is
better?  Of course we will be better offin heaven.  Then the question follows…why don’t we just go to heaven once we become a Christian and skip the pain and misery of living here on earth?

The answer comes from the Scriptures;

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22
If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I
shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My
desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24
But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for
your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have
ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.


Paul says that it is better to be with Christ but
to remain here on earth means fruit labor. He says “it is necessary on your account.”  Don’t miss this.  For Paul, it is better to be in heaven with Christ.  But Paul is not looking at his
life according to what is best for him. Paul is looking at life from the perspective of what God thinks is
best.  God wants Paul here on the earth for the progress and joy of the Philippians. 
So Paul’s life here on earth has nothing to do with himself, at least not directly.  Paul’s life is to be lived
for others for the glory of God. 


The problem is that most of us go through life
living for ourselves.  So we live life exactly the opposite of how God wants us to live it.  We must understand the Biblical concept of not living life for ourselves but for God and for others.  Jesus makes this clear when He is asked what
is the first and greatest commandment in Matthew 22:34-40.  Jesus says that the greatest commandment is
to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and the second is like
it, to love your neighbor as yourself. Neither commandment says that we should live for ourselves.  There should be no confusion.  Except that our sinful nature constantly and consistently puts ourselves at the heart and center of everything.

Somehow we have to lose sight of ourselves and get caught up in loving God and loving others. 
Joel Osteen has a bestseller called “Your Best Life Now”.  Where’s the focus? It’s on YOU.  I think a title of a more Biblical book would be called, “Life is not about you!”  It probably wouldn’t be a bestseller.  But
it would be glorifying to God, whereas Olsteen’s book is a stench to God.

So why should we even take care of ourselves?  Be healthy? Exercise? Stay emotionally and
mentally sharp?

What changes do I need to make in my life to shift
the core focus from myself onto loving God and others?

Psalm 8 sheds more light on these questions…

ESV Psalm 8:1 TO THE
CHOIRMASTER: ACCORDING TO THE GITTITH. A PSALM OF DAVID. O LORD, our Lord, how
majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the
heavens. 2 Out of the mouth of babes and infants, you have
established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. 3
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of
him, and the son of man that you care for him? 5 Yet you have made
him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and
honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and
also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the heavens, and the
fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 9 O
LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

 

This Psalm explains to us that God, whose glory is
above the heavens, made man a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned
him with glory and honor.  So we do have
significance.  My questions prior about
why are we left on earth were not to diminish the significance of man or his
dignity.  We cannot forget that we were
created in the image of God.  However, my
question is why are we left on earth? 
What is our meaning and purpose to be here?  Verse 6 tells us that God has given man
dominion over the works of his hands, He has put all things under man’s
feet.  So our purpose is to have dominion over the earth, what
God created for Himself and also for us to enjoy.  Maybe the question itself is self-centered
and self serving.  Because God’s answers
to why we are here still center on Him and His creation, not just on us.

Maybe some better questions should be, “Why did God
create man and what purpose does God have for man while he is alive?”  This Psalm begins and ends glorifying God not
man.  “O Lord, our Lord how majestic is
your name in all the earth!”  It is the
Lord’s name that is majestic, it is the Lord’s name that must be praised and
lifted up and worshiped.

Once again we are challenged that life is not
centered around us but around a God whose glory is above everything, it is
about His name being proclaimed, established and lifted up.  Man carries out the will of God here and in
heaven.  We do have a purpose here, we do
have significance here on earth but it centers around God, not us.  We will relentlessly pursue the  meaning to 
life, and most people do, trying to create meaning and significance that
revolve around man somehow.  The problem
is that this pursuit will never end until one finds that they are pursuing the
wrong thing, down the wrong road.  The
purpose and meaning to life are found in the Scriptures, not in the world we
live in.  It is found in the Creator, not
the creation.

 

All for Jesus,

Fletch

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