Eternal Perspective

Keith Pate

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

II Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

This is one of my favorite Scripture passages, especially in these uncertain times.  It reminds us that our hope, joy, peace, and eternal security is not dependent upon external circumstances. It depends upon an unchanging God who is true to His Word! The God who is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46). 

Possibly part of our anxiousness these days, as we continue to deal with the discomforts of a Covid world, is a misfocused perspective. Many Americans enjoy a lifestyle that is comfortable, complete with frequent vacations, visits to the hair salons/spas, restaurants, sports engagements, family outings, concerts, and the like. We are content with the baubles and conveniences that occupy our time and give us great pleasure. In America, one could easily argue we have found Heaven! (Especially pre-Covid.) 

Therefore, we are faint hearted when it comes to suffering. Suffering for most of us is not being able to get our hair cut in a timely manner, go to our favorite restaurant, visit family, go on the cruise we have planned for months, or engage in friendly college football rivalry. However, I don’t think Paul, when writing in II Corinthians, envisioned these types of things as our “outward wasting away.” The early Christians were in danger of being fed to lions, crucified, burned at the stake, or slaughtered for simply professing and living out their faith. These were the sufferings Paul may have been relating in this passage.

The early Christians longed for paradise, because of the sacrifices and hardships they endured daily.  Cyprian, one of the early church fathers from the 3rd century wrote this of Heaven:

Let us greet the day which assigns each of us to his own home, which snatches us from this place and sets us free from the snares of the world and restores us to paradise and the Kingdom. Anyone who has been in foreign lands long to return to his own native land…we regard paradise as our native land.

Billy Graham said, My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.”

I am afraid for many Christians today we have come dangerously close to making this world our home. We are no longer traveling through, rather we have set up housekeeping and built mansions in which to reside. We have traded a yearning for the eternal majesty of Heaven, for a plastic substitution of an earthly kingdom that is built on shifting sands. Possibly some of the upheavals we are experiencing now are to awaken us, to change our appetites, to replace comfort and security with a craving for our Eternal Creator God and paradise with Him.

This world is transitory. Its financial, social, political, and educational systems cannot offer the answers to life’s deepest desires and questions. We only need to look around and see the evidence that is screaming at us. 

Maybe it is time as God’s church we become transfixed, fixing our eyes on things unseen, things eternal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matt. 6:21. 

Where is our treasure? Do we long for a Heavenly home or an earthly mansion? 

Keith Pate About Keith Pate

Keith is originally from Castleberry, AL in Conecuh County. He joined Eastern Hills as Minister of Music in January of 2005 from Anastasia Baptist Church in St. Augustine, FL.