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“You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway.” John 20:29
‘There is no question that there is an unseen world. The problem is, how far is it from midtown and how late is it open?’– Woody Allen
Christians believe there is an unseen world that in some ways is more real than the one we see. Not that the one we see isn’t real, but the unseen world sometimes is thought of as being more important because of its permanence. The unseen one will last forever; this one is temporary, and yet for now, this temporary one is our reality.
That’s why I like Woody Allen’s question about how far the unseen world is from us and how late it stays open. In other words: How accessible is this unseen world? I think he may be on to something. As the saying goes: Some Christians are so heavenly minded, they’re of no earthly good.
The Gospel is all about caring for the real human needs of people, not just about getting them into heaven.
Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, and you say, “Well, goodbye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well,” but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all – it is dead and useless. (James 2:17)
Jesus Christ brought the Good News of the Kingdom of heaven to earth, but he didn’t just touch down for a momentary appearance. Sometimes we forget he carried on a ministry here for three years. He connected with and did something about the suffering needs of the sick, dying, and mentally ill. Faith in action brings two worlds together.
The reality of heaven doesn’t make earth less real or less important. If our longing for heaven and focus on eternity is disengaging us from earth, we should probably check and see if we have the right heaven. If we have the right heaven, the opposite should happen. The more committed we are to heaven (the more we get an eternal perspective on life), the more deeply we will be committed to this life and those around us. Heaven brings meaning to earth, not an escape. It brings dignity to every human being, a reason for our existence and a desire to want to connect everyone to God.
When Jesus came, one of the first things he did was announce that the Good News of the Kingdom of heaven had come. Heaven is at hand. Let’s live in such a way as to show people like Mr. Allen that the unseen world is right around the corner, and what’s more, it stays open all night.
Question: Have you observed anyone whose faith didn’t seem to make a difference in their lives? How did that make you feel?