It’s been said that Christians are “so heavenly minded that they’re no earthly good.” That’s a tragic indictment. It infers that with all the injustices and pressing needs of this world, what good is it to be fixated on a future, distant world?
But, ironically, the true problem is precisely the opposite. The issue is not that Christians think too much about heaven, but rather that we don’t think hard enough about it. And this lack is the cause of much indifference in the church regarding the present world.
One example is the apostle Paul, who, in terms of making an impact on the world, is definitely on the long list of game changers. He summarizes his philosophy of life succinctly:
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2, ESV).
Some translations say “affections,” instead of “minds.” This sounds a whole lot like saying: “get fixated on heaven, not on earth!” So much for the accusation of being “too heavenly minded.” According to Scripture, the more our minds and hearts are fixed on heaven, the more our lives will make a meaningful impact here on earth.
As C.S. Lewis pointed out in his classic, Mere Christianity:
“A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in:” aim at earth and you will get neither” (Mere Christianity, p.134).
The reality of heaven is a reminder of what God’s original purpose was for this present world. Keeping the future life central to our paradigm gives us a constant reminder of what life on earth ought to be like—full of love, goodness, joy, and purpose. It inspires us to strive for that ideal in the here and now and guards us against complacency and indifference.
May we live our lives in the atmosphere of heavenly realities and strive to make a difference in this world. May we be so heavenly minded that we become of great earthly good!