Hollywood Versus Our Hope

hollywood

Imagine if you will, a man explaining to his fiancé his vision for their future once they are married.

Let’s carry out this scene a bit further with the prospective bride responding something like this: “Let’s just concentrate on our life now before the wedding; we can talk about our honeymoon and life together after we get married”

Would you think that strange? Why would the future bride not want to talk about life after the wedding ceremony? We would wonder about the lack of excitement.

Is this not what we so often do as the church?

Jesus wants us to know about the future he has planned for us; He revealed many things about the glory ahead for us through His apostles.

Believers, however, remain fixated on what the Bible teaches about this life and spends little time contemplating their glorious future after Jesus appears. The result is an overall lack of excitement regarding Jesus’ return.

How did we get here? What are some other causes of the focus on this life versus eternity?

Hollywood

How often have you seen depictions of lonely glorified believers sitting on clouds strumming harps? With such an idea of eternity, it’s no wonder believers lose their eagerness for heaven. Such misinformation dampens our anticipation and understandably so. Who would desire such a lonely and boring existence?

Better to live for the moment than wait for that.

However, Scripture tells us we will reign with Christ in His earthly kingdom and then forevermore throughout eternity. Doesn’t that sound much more exciting than sitting on a cloud?

Hollywood’s lame and misleading depictions of heaven fall far short of the glory ahead for followers of Christ.

I love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, but someday as followers of Christ we will be so much more than aspiring angels jumping into icy waters to earn our wings. Scripture says we will “judge angels” (1 Cor. 6:3). I am not sure of all that implies, but it certainly distinguishes us from them and places us on a higher level.

Hollywood’s lame and misleading depictions of heaven fall far short of the glory ahead for followers of Christ.

I’ve heard that before

Back in the 1960s’ and 1970’s, eschatology became a hot topic. Many churches emphasized the imminent return of Jesus. I remember Jack Van Impe coming to my church to teach for an entire week about prophecy.

As time has passed, however, believers have lost their expectancy of Jesus’ return. Having looked for it for so long, I understand the sentiment that finds it difficult to believe He will appear anytime soon. After all, we have heard it before for so many years and yet nothing has happened.

However, as we see the prophecy begin to be fulfilled in our world today, if there was ever a time to be watchful, it is now!

When I read the signs of the coming time of tribulation in Matthew 24:3-14, I wonder if Jesus had a laptop in front of him and was reading from various news sites on the Internet as he talked to his disciples. His words in that passage so closely match what we see around us today; it’s difficult to imagine he was talking about a still future period of history.

Silence in Our Churches

Unfortunately, rather than becoming more watchful as signs multiply, churches remain mostly silent on the subject. How can believers be excited about their future hope if they never hear about it?

It’s difficult, if not impossible.

Murky references to eternal life or some distant kingdom do not stir our hearts or relieve anxiety over what we see around us.

Murky references to eternal life or some distant kingdom do not stir our hearts or relieve anxiety over what we see around us. John Eldredge said this in his book Desire, “C.S. Lewis summed it up, ‘We can only hope for what we desire.’ No desire, no hope. . . . Bland assurances of the sweet by-and-by don’t inflame the soul.”[i]

Passing references to heaven do not impassion us, especially in America where so many enjoy comfortable lives. Without a vision of the joys ahead for us after Jesus returns for us, it’s difficult to imagine heaven can be any better than our current existence with IPhones, smart TV’s, computer games, and a host of other things I could list.

Teaching Without a Two-world Perspective

When churches ignore a two-world perspective, they unwittingly make happy marriages, good parenting, wise financial planning, etc., our ultimate hope rather than Jesus’ appearing. Of course, biblically centered teaching on such things is essential. Without a two-world perspective woven into such instruction, however, these things can easily become our hope rather than Jesus’ return.

The danger comes from focusing our hope on temporal results where so many factors, including the sinful choices of ourselves and others, negatively impact the outcomes we so greatly desire. The New Testament teaches believers to expect trials and difficult times in this life (James 1:2-3; 1 Pet. 1:6, 4:12-13).

Scripture promises us paradise in eternity, not now. We set ourselves up for great disappointment when we define anything in this life as our paradise. That is our future, not our present reality.

Hard Pews

Many see eternity as an unending church service as John Eldredge also notes in his book Desire, “Nearly every Christian I have spoken with has some idea of eternity is an unending church service . . . . we have settled on an image of the never-ending sing-along in the sky. . . . And our heart sinks.”[ii]

Of course we will sing and worship the Lord throughout eternity as we get caught up in the glories of eternity and celebrate the full realization of all that He had done for us.

We are promised an amazing future that we can be excited about and celebrate!

Scripture, however, also speaks of our reigning with Christ during the millennium and then forever. We will have thrilling kingdom responsibilities and forever enjoy a restored earth. We will never get bored in eternity with the exciting future the Lord has specifically planned for each one of us.

Satan’s Opposition

Amir Tsarfati recently gave a sermon titled, “Bible Prophecy – God Gave It – Satan Hates It.” Does that not sum up well what we see today with Satan’s ever growing opposition to anything related to our future hope?

Of course, Satan does not want believers to be aware of the glorious future God has planned for them. Why would he want us to anticipate our future immortal bodies when he can drag us into despair over aging, sicknesses, and other aches and pains?

It also makes perfect sense that the devil would distract us from our future hope and bring division into the body of Christ regarding such things.

Bottom Line

God did not reveal so much about our future hope simply for seminary classroom discussions. No, he provided many details of what’s ahead so we as believers can rejoice in our thrilling hope and rise about the anxieties that so often drag us down.

In 1 Corinthians 2:9 Paul writes, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God had prepared for those who love him.’ But the apostle does not stop there, he quickly adds in the following verse, “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.”

We have a glorious future beyond what we can imagine. And yet, the Spirit has revealed some things to us. The Lord did not tell us everything about eternity, but He revealed enough to let us know it will be wonderful beyond all we could hope for.

No one will be disappointed with heaven and long to be back on earth. That will never happen; count on it.

[i] Eldredge, John, Desire (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), pp. 64-65

[ii] Ibid., p. 111

 

 

 

One thought on “Hollywood Versus Our Hope

  1. Ronald Banks November 1, 2016 / 8:02 pm

    This is all so true. Good read here. However; I too have looked and studied since 1977 at that time Jimmy Swaggart was beginning to loudly proclaim a rapture. Then 1980 Hal Lindey and many books ” Late Great Planet Earth “; ” Satan is Alive And Well on Planet Earth “. ” 1980’s Countdown to Armeggedon ” tapes. Jack Van Impe; John Hagee etc. to this day. Then on to Rapture Ready early 2000 for me till now still expecting. I’m getting weary and old now at coming 67 early next year. Some say this could go on til 2028. Oh my; I’m really worn out if not out by then.I’ll be like quoting scripture ” where is the promise of His coming?.”. I see Russia poised and ready right now; fully armed on the Syrian border next to Israel. If we are to be here to witness this act of God then rapture must unfold soon after I hope. Financial calamity world wide is looming before us. How long can that hold back before it crashes and civil unrest sets the stage for Anti Christ to fix things? Needless to say I would like some hopeful answers. The sin in this world and the reproach of it day in and day out. I want out… Sorry about all this ; just need to release some. I am so well aware of my fallen state of humanity and long for a glorified state on Christ can give. YBIC. R.B.

    Like

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