A Mission for Right Now
A Mission for Right Now Luke 4:14-21
There is a phrase that people sometimes use to describe people who may have a faith, but that faith seems to be up in the clouds rather than grounded in reality. The phrase used to describe someone like this is that they are “so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good.” In others words, they are so focused on eternity that they forget to live in the moment or they forget about trying to make the world a better place in the present time. They are so focus on the lofty principles of the faith and a future heaven, that they do not apply those principles to work to make a difference in people’s lives now.
This can be a danger of the Christian faith. It can draw people to think that caring for the earth doesn’t really matter because believers are going to heaven where life really begins. It can lead people to a kind of logic where they do not take stock in science, or they are not concerned about climate change or nuclear war. Taken to an extreme, this kind of logic may even encourage people to want the world to end so that they can get to heaven sooner. I’ve actually heard people talk about wanting a war in Israel because they believe that is where Armageddon will happen which is what will trigger Christ coming again more quickly.
Another danger in being “so heavenly-minded that we are no earthly good” is that we get so concerned about saving people’s souls for heaven that we forget that they also have needs in the present time. In the reading from Luke this Sunday we will hear Jesus lay out his mission statement by quoting the prophet Isaiah. He says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then Jesus says that this mission has been fulfilled in the hearing of it. He doesn’t say it will be fulfilled later or up in heaven, he says it is happening right now through him.
During his ministry Jesus does not actually talk much about heaven, but he does talk a lot about the kingdom of God coming right now. He talks about the kingdom of God coming as he heals people, as he feeds people, as he forgives people and brings them the good news of God’s love for them in the present time. How might we follow this example of Jesus? How do we find comfort in the promise of heaven while still seeking to do as much earthly good as we can right now? Rather than allow our faith to cause us to avoid present needs and conflicts, can we allow our faith to ground us more deeply in reality so that it gives us strength to seek peace and reconciliation and work to make the world a better place for generations to come?
-Pastor Erik Goehner