With teary eyes and never-let-me-go hugs, my good friend sniffed and said her farewell as she packed her bags. “Come find me when you visit! But even if not, I will see you in heaven—with Jesus!”
Though that sounded morbid at the time, her words struck a chord within me. My friend and I used to spend hours brainstorming the endless possibilities and wonders of living in the new heaven and earth God promises (2 Peter 3:13). How wonderful would it be if Jesus returned right now and we could all be together in our permanent, heavenly home.
As important as it is for us to be excited about Jesus return and restoration of all things (Revelation 21:4), it is equally important that we make the most of our earthly, temporary lives.
Here are two reasons:
#1: Our time on earth matters because we live for Jesus
Growing up, I often thought of eternal life as something we attain after we die. In my mind, I picture death as falling asleep, then with a bat of an eyelid, I’ll wake up to the pearly gates of heaven, decked in white robes, feeling as light as a feather.
But Jesus’ prayer for His disciples before His death prompts me to think differently. He said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3-4).
This reminds me that eternal life begins the moment we believe in Christ as our Lord and Saviour. If we were saved solely for a one-stop destination, there would be no reason for God to delay our journey’s end. Rather, Jesus came to save and restore us to our original purpose: living in a loving relationship with our Creator.
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, His disciples experienced a sudden shift from purpose-full days following Jesus on His earthly mission to playing a waiting game. Peter and six other disciples returned to their bygone days as fishermen but disappointingly, didn’t catch anything (John 21:1-3).
Jesus swooped to the rescue and guided their nets to the right side of the boat. Miraculously, His disciples went from a zero overnight catch to a net brimming with a large number of fish (John 21:10-11). Jesus prepared the fish and invited His disciples to savour a meal with Him (John 21:12-13).
As they ate, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Each time, Peter affirmed his love and commitment to Jesus. And all three times, Jesus reminded Peter to feed and take care of His sheep (John 21:15-17).
Jesus’ question and response to Peter applies to me and everyone who follows Christ—that we are to use this time on earth to look after His flock. This snapshot of breakfast with Jesus on the beach also reminds me that knowing God and being in a relationship with Jesus is equally about enjoying His friendship as it is about imitating our Servant King, and living out our calling to care for one another.
Every day on earth is now an opportunity to sit in His presence, enjoy His friendship, and receive from His abundant grace and love.
My short-lived time on earth matters because knowing Jesus gives me the meaning for a new way of living. Through Christ’s sacrifice, I no longer live for myself or my selfish, short-term pursuits, but I live for God and His loving, enduring purposes (Galatians 2:20). And it’s our love and relationship with Jesus that compels and qualifies us to serve Him and others as new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
#2: Our time on earth is to be used to point others to Jesus
Our time here is short, but Jesus has entrusted to us an all-important, life-saving, world-changing mission—to preach the gospel and make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:18-20).
Even though I have been a Christian for a long time, I still struggle to initiate and carry a conversation about my Christian faith with my non-Christian friends, for fear of judgment, rejection, or worst of all, saying the wrong thing.
But in Christ and with the Spirit’s help, I have everything that I need to make Christ known to others (John 14:16, 26). For me, I have found it helpful to pray before, during, and after every discussion, committing the conversation into God’s hands and asking for faith and understanding for all parties.
Recently, I read an inspiring testimony of a young Singaporean law graduate, Jonathan Neo, who travelled to the Ukrainian border amidst war and chaos. His goal was to speak the voice of God to the Ukrainian refugees. His journey involved braving harsh conditions and daily uncertainties, but his passion never dwindled.
What struck me from Jonathan’s testimony was that age, cultural background, career, and status has no bearing on our effectiveness in evangelism. All that matters is that we listen for God’s voice and respond in faith, “Here I am. Send me!” Send me to where You want me to go. Show me what it is You want me to do.
These are difficult words to pray. Scary, even. Following Jesus, our Servant King, means being ready to receive whatever He gives us, including challenges, hardship, and persecution (Matthew 16:24). Most of us, and I speak for myself, would prefer to live an easy-going, smooth-sailing life on earth until Christ brings us home.
And yet, in pursuing a comfortable, happy life for myself, I often feel restless and dissatisfied, recognising deep down that true joy and satisfaction comes from knowing Christ intimately—sharing in both His sufferings and His victory (Philippians 3:10-12). As we dedicate our lives to knowing God and pointing others to Him in the good times and bad, God lovingly comforts and gladdens our hearts, sustaining us in our mission (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Not all of us will be called to scale real mountain ranges or live in cross-culture missionary communities, but we are each called to go forth to the figurative hills in our lives so that we can give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58); sharing about salvation through Jesus to those around us.
It can be scary to share our faith, but we can be full of courage because it is the power of God—not our eloquence, knowledge or persuasiveness—that brings salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). Whether it is to our family, friends, neighbours, colleagues or to the ends of the earth, let us make haste to pray for the people in our lives and tell of the hope and victory we have through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:56-57).
As we seek to know Christ and make Him known on this side of eternity, let us centre our lives on the gospel and extend the grace we have richly received to those around us. As Saint Augustine prayed, “Eternal God, grant us so to know you, that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom, in Jesus our Lord.”