Over the past year we’ve slowly walked through the beatitudes (the characteristics of kingdom citizens). We’ve covered what it means to be humble, repentant, meek, and compassionate. Diving deeper, we looked at hungering and thirsting for righteousness, purifying our hearts, being peacemakers, and standing firm in our faith when persecuted. And while we went straight down Matthew 5:3-11 trait by trait, we cannot wrap up this series without discussing the need for an eternal perspective.
Unlike the other characteristics, living with an eternal perspective isn’t listed in the beatitudes. Yet, we cannot understand and live out the beatitudes without an eternal perspective. Phrases like “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” “they shall inherit the earth,” “they shall see God,” and “your reward is great in heaven,” tells us the blessings of the beatitudes are not limited to our current life.
Jesus presented the kingdom characteristics with eternity in mind. In fact, Jesus always spoke with a big picture viewpoint. As followers of Christ, we need to follow His lead and shift our perception. Here are three reasons why.
Why we need to live with an eternal perspective
1. It gives us hope.
The promise of eternity and the rewards awaiting us in heaven, service as hope to hold to during our earthly lives. Paul make this clear in Colossians 3:1-4: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (ESV)
Hope abounds in these four verses. First, they remind us that God is in control, and Christ sits at his right hand. Even when we don’t understand what is going on, God knows, and we can trust Him to work for our good. Hence the instructions, “seek those things which are above.” We are to let God be in control and keep our gazed fixed on Him.
Second, these verses declare our lives are hidden with Christ. No matter what happens to us here on earth, nothing can separate us from God. And finally, because our lives are hidden with Christ, one day we will appear with Him in all His glory.
With an eternal mindset, we can have hope even in the darkest of times. “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT)
2. It keeps us separate from the world.
As Christ followers, we should stand out in the world. In fact, that’s the whole point of our beatitudes study, to learn how different kingdom citizens are from earthly citizens. The Bible makes it clear that we cannot stand out for Christ while filling ourselves with worldly desires.
The temptation for worldly desires is strong because we all have a God-sized void longing to be filled. The world offers up a variety of ideas for filling that void, including: a spouse, food, possessions, a good job, and children. But instead of filling us, these earthly goods will leave us empty and looking just like everyone else.
Francis Chan explains it this way; “Our lack of intimacy with God causes a void that we try to fill with the frailest of substitutes.” But when we shift our eyes to things above, we gain the Father’s perspective. “When we actually stare at Him, everything else fades to its proper place.” (Francis Chan)
Holding an eternal perspective changes our focus. We don’t get caught up in the things of this earth when we are seeking the things of God. Therefore, our void is filled and we remain set apart for Christ.
3. It becomes a testimony to unbelievers.
The beatitudes are so counter-cultural that if we embody these traits, unbelieves will notice a difference. They will notice that what is important to everyone else is not important to us. Our unexplainable joy and unwavering hope will stand out when all they see is despair.
The Christian life is intended to be a testimony to God. The Apostle Peter writes; “Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” 1 Peter 2:11-12 (NLT)
As Kingdom citizens, our lives witness to God’s salvation and the promises that await all those who declare Jesus their Lord and Savior. When we live with eternity in mind, others will notice and say, “I want what she has.”
Living with an eternal perspective is not optional for kingdom citizens. It’s our view of eternity that gives us hope and motivation to press on when life gets hard. And it’s adopting the Father’s perspective that guides us in all our ways, including growth as a kingdom citizen.