The apostle Paul opens his letter to the Colossians with an interesting thought, one that took me by surprise. This is what he wrote:
3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 because we have heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints, 5 based on the hope laid up for you in heaven. Some time ago you heard about this hope in the word of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and spreading all over the world, so it has been doing among you from the day you heard it and came to know the grace of God in truth. (Colossians 1:3-6; ISV)
I have to be honest, I have not been looking forward to the joys of heaven. I have been wanting a nice life right now. I have been wanting a nice life right now. Now wonder my motivation for following Jesus has been the approval of other people.
This motivation, seeking the approval of people, also comes with a cost. When I am unable to live up to expectations, when I am rejected by another person, my faith in Jesus takes a hit. I wonder how God could allow that to happen when I have been faithful. The reality is that it isn’t God’s fault that I am rejected, since it was I who had put my hope in the wrong thing.
What does it mean to hope for heaven. Here are a few ideas I have had since reading this passage.
- It means we have to realize that this world cannot meet our deepest longings and needs.
- It means that we value our relationship with God above everything else and make that relationship a priority in our lives.
- It means we long to live life the way it was meant to be lived instead of being satisfied with life here and now.
When I first read this passage I thought that the Colossians were awfully selfish in their motivation. As I continued to ponder these verses I realized that my has been selfish because it has been all about me. The Colossians seemed to be motivated by their love of God, their desire to be with Jesus, and the love for other people. The were motivated by heaven because the loved God and they loved people.