I read the question asked by John Piper in a book called Crazy Love written by Francis Chan. It’s haunted me for months. It's gotten me thinking. Here it is.
The critical question for our generation and for every generation is this. If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth and all the food you ever liked and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed and all the natural beauties you ever saw and all the physical pleasures you ever tasted and no human conflict or any natural disasters …could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?
I’ve been a believer for a long time. I’ve committed my life to Christ. So, I'm wired in. But if I could have everything that’s meaningful to me in heaven minus Christ would I even blink?
What about you? Don't get real spiritual on me and forsake honesty. Would you miss Jesus in heaven if you had everything else you really wanted?
We throw the term 'relationship with Christ' around fairly casually in many religious circles. We talk about it with great gusto but I have a hunch a fair amount of us really don't know what we're talking about. And if that's true then maybe we really don't know Christ in some sort of personal, interactive way. Some of us have been around religious folks enough to gain access to 'personal relationship' jargon. But jargon isn't the same as a relationship. So, I'm thinking that there are a whole lot of folks in and outside the Christian camp that might just settle for a Christless heaven. If we don't need Him now why would we need Him then?
The other question haunting me is this one. Would I go anywhere, do anything, and take on any problem if God called me?
Would I? Do I have that kind of faith? Of course, my decision would depend greatly on whether or not I have cultivated some sort of relationship with God. My answer to the first question (heaven without Christ) would certainly influence my answer to this one.
I know enough about God to know that His call is often a step into the unknown. Is that what I really want?
What about you? Would you bravely go where no man or woman has gone before if you believed God was calling you?
Two questions. One about relationship. The other about trust and mission.
So, first things first. The first question is the more essential one I think. At least it is for me. I have very little trouble going on a mission. I struggle more with the relationship issue. Here's why.
I’m realizing that the answer in my head to the heaven without Christ question doesn't necessarily match the truth of my life. The answer in my head is “No way, I wouldn’t want to live anyplace with out Jesus, no matter how good it is.” If that’s the case why do I sometimes feel so distant from the living God in the here and now? Why am I so content at times to keep doing my own thing and in essence live a life of ‘functional atheism’? Quaker writer Parker Palmer coined that ‘functional atheism’ term. It’s the belief that ultimate responsibility for everything rests with us. We say we believe but live as though we don't. Functional atheism can be found wherever Christians gather. It’s a conviction held even by people who talk a good game about God.
So, it’s back to the drawing board. My dissatisfaction with my state of mind compels me to go back to the Scriptures and some tried and true spiritual disciplines. I'm thinking it time to rethink and relearn everything I know about Jesus. It’s time to read and study and breathe in the life of Christ, learning once again about the unforced rhythms of grace. I need to fall back in love (instead of just having unswerving respect) with the Savior who has never fallen out of love with me. And as I do the question about mission and call will fall into place I bet.
Don't go all judgmental on me now. I'm just trying to be honest. If you know me you know that my faith is real. I just need to rediscover the essence of it once again. I need to know God more than knowing about Him. Sometimes the pendulum of my life swings too far towards knowledge and my heart yearns for the intimacy of relationship. My guess some of you know what I'm talking about.
So what about you?
Can you easily imagine a heaven with no care and worry as being OK even if Jesus wasn’t part of the mix? Are questions of mission and call bothersome and intrusive?
Do you need to rediscover anew what drew you to faith in the first place?
Would love to hear what you’re thinking.