The topic of “heaven” is one of the most penned topics in the realm of prose and poetry, and one of the most illustrated points of artistry. Countless television shows describe individuals’ having out-of-body experiences involving heaven. Movies depict those who claim to have gone there. Heaven remains a fascination for humans. And while some might deny the potential of heaven’s existence, it’s hard to deny the appeal that it has in a world where hope often withers in the shadows of human depravity. So it seems that this only proves the point that this present world is not our hope. It’s not our home. It’s not our entire reality, nor should it ever be.
We are in need of an eschatological imperative to invade our lives.
Hope of heaven.
The hope of Christ.
Without it we risk meaningless living, in a state of inconsequential reality regarding eternity. Our lives won’t mean very much without the hope of heaven. Or without the hope of Christ. We’ll grow stale. Bitter. Complacent. We need heaven to enter our reality. We need Christ to remind us why we’re here in the first place. To glorify God, to love others, and to desire Jesus as the treasure above all else.
Jesus teaches about the kingdom of heaven as an imminent reality in so much of the gospels that it seems He wants us to have heaven on our minds. If you’ve ever heard the saying, “you’re no earthly good when you’re so heavenly minded,” it’s quite the contrary. God desires us to “look for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” as it says in Titus 2:13.
But notice that our hope for heaven is wrapped up in our hope of Jesus Christ. It is not an isolated hope for eternal paradise. Not at all. Crucially, we long for the day when we see our Savior. And this is the eschatological imperative pushing through the crevices of our hearts. Demanding us to open our eyes. To look to Jesus. To hope for Jesus’ return.
To expound upon eschatological imperative, the word “eschatological” comes from the Greek word “εσχατοϛ” meaning “last; furthest; or most remote.” Pretty simple word. Thus, a pretty simple connection that eschatology (with root εσχατοϛ and ending “-ology,” or “study of”) means study of “last things.” Or the study of things that pertain to the end of the ages and ultimate realities. And an “imperative” is a must or a necessary essential. A logical must.
So, possessing an “eschatological imperative” means that it is necessary and essential for one to operate from a perspective of last things in everything that one does.
But not just any last things. We focus on last things that are important to God as pertaining to scripture. Things that are last (yet to come). And things that last (forever). Namely, Himself. His coming. And the hope of heaven. For God is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev: 1:8; 21:6; 22:13). The beginning and the last (Isaiah 44:6; Rev: 1:17). And He will come to rescue us through Christ (Isaiah 66:18; John 14:18; Rev. 22:12). As we focus on Christ as our last thing, or our ultimate obsession and our end goal, the hope of heaven penetrates our worldview of what it means to live as a Christian. It’s an earth-shattering, eschatological perspective. An eschatological perspective intertwined in 1) the alpha-and-omega, all-encompassing characteristic of God, 2) the return of Christ, and 3) the hope of heaven, where we have eternal communion with our God.
It’s all about God and always will be. For “God is the best thing that exists,” as Louie Giglio puts it so well. He is what we live for.
It helps me to be reminded in the midst of my current situation that there is more to life than this. Whatever season you’re in, it won’t last forever. But God will last forever (1 Chr 16:34; Psalm 45:6) . No matter how broken our world becomes, it won’t remain broken forever. Jesus is coming back to make all things new (Rev 21:1-4). Our lives may not endure past 100 years on this earth. But our life with God will endure forever (Rev 22:5). These are essential truths that should awaken hope in the midst of today’s burdens. That God lasts forever. Jesus Christ is coming back soon. And we hope for heaven.
We look for a kingdom yet unseen (John 18:36; 1 Tim 1:17). A kingdom that is coming on clouds of glory with a rider in white coming to rescue His beloved (Rev 19:13). We anticipate the wedding supper of the lamb (Rev 19:7). We let the hope of heaven seep into the crevices of our hearts that we may be renewed afresh despite a world of chaos. I need that hope. We all do, if we’re honest.
Especially since I can find it so easy to lose sight of just what it means to possess an eschatological imperative. I drift from focusing on the last and most important thing. I drift from focusing on what’s to come. I focus too much on what I can see. Too little on what I don’t see. And the hope of “last things” becomes cloudy in the distractions of today. And I can find myself too worn out to even think about “right now” things, much less “last things.”
Most of the time, we have a wrong eschatological perspective of life. Our “last things,” or ultimate things that should matter before God, are usually self-seeking “first things.” We may spend more time fixating on our own agendas, working towards our own goals, worrying over petty problems, or wishing wishes that never come. Too often we shout “me first” when it should be “me last.” Because it’s always easier to get what we want. It is. But sometimes, deciding to be okay with the tension that accompanies not getting what we want can be good for us.
For me, I’ve realized that I need to stop avoiding anxiety. It may sound odd that this would be helpful rather than harmful. But I’ve learned that I need to be okay with not having control over the things I want to be in control of. And then I have to confront anxiety or fear head-on. I have to let it go and embrace it, if it comes. But in the midst of letting go, I’m finding freedom in being okay with whatever happens to come my way…even if that means feeling overwhelmed with things I no longer have control over. God is renewing my perspective in light of eternity.
And I know it’s hard to think with a mind postured towards heaven in all that we do. I know we have a lot of distractions. I know we still have daily responsibilities. But may we let it be a spiritual discipline that develops into a pattern of habitual thinking, to continue looking towards our ultimate aim to be with Christ eternally. Like David in Psalm 43:5, I pray that we would respond in this manner: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”
My only cure for anxiety is an eschatological perspective. An awakening of sorts. A wake-up call to the reality that life is far more dependent on what I don’t see than what I do see. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The impending reality of heaven in our midst should cause us to pause and thank God for the hope He has given us in His Son Jesus Christ. To be with Him one day in glory. To enter into peace and rest. To be accepted as one wholly loved and completely understood. This is our hope. And this “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us,” as it says in Romans 5:5.
Hope in Christ changes today by curing our anxiety for tomorrow with the truth that forever begins soon. Yes, forever begins soon.
Jesus proclaims in Revelation 22:7, “Look, I am coming soon!” and again in verse 12, “Look, I am coming soon!” John writes down these powerful words of Jesus as he recalls his experience of this revelation. In Revelation 22:20, he writes, “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (emphasis mine). John wanted Jesus to come now. He was ready. He was expectant. His experience and relationship with Jesus further fed his desire to see Christ’s return. So we must ask ourselves: do our relationships with Jesus feed our desire for His return? We need this kind of longing to keep us hopeful in the midst of what we face here on earth.
I’m finding that as I position my heart towards heaven and my hope in Christ, I don’t worry so much about what is happening now as I used to. I’m learning to take an eschatological look at my circumstances and realize that it is nothing in light of the age to come. There is a “last” thing up ahead that initiates eternity. Jesus will return! And He’s here now with us through His Holy Spirit. Our lives are minuscule compared to His greatness and inconsequential to forever with our Savior.
As we ponder what it means to live life postured towards heaven, may we embrace the very perspective of Jesus. The One who came to earth from heaven and taught us about the kingdom to come. The kingdom of God. The Alpha and the Omega. The first and the last. For our inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, unfading, and is kept in heaven for you,” as is says in 1 Peter 1:4.
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 3:20
Questions for Today:
- How are my ultimate hopes impacting the way that I live daily?
- Why is it important that we hope in Jesus Christ as it relates to heaven and not hope in the isolated reality of heaven?
- How can I live my life with an eschatological imperative?
- What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my walk with Him?
“Heaven and Earth” by Hillsong Worship