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What are we in essence?
- Jacob Ninan
When we meet people we see their body, colour, shape, size, the way they talk and behave, etc. Then we get to know about what they do in their profession, their title, qualifications, abilities, accomplishments, etc. This type of information gives us a certain picture of who they are, and our respect or lack of it gets fixed in our mind based on these things that we know about them.
But all these things are merely temporary. All these people will one day leave their bodies, titles, wealth, accomplishments, etc., behind in this world as they get ready to meet their God and Creator. These things which made them special on this earth in the eyes of the people around them will have no value in His sight. His question for them is whether they knew His Son as their Saviour and what He has been able to accomplish in them. What a shock it will be for many people who gloried in themselves on earth and in their honour before man, when they realised that none of those things received any recognition in eternity!
Paul realised this even when he was living on earth (Php.3:8). He was a blessed man. Once he recognised the relative value of things on earth and in heaven, he set his mind to pursuing after the things that really mattered in heaven (vv.9-11).
Sad to say, it appears that a large majority of Christians have not received this understanding. We see churches honouring film stars, politicians, sports stars, award winners, etc., as if they were great people, even greater than their pastors! We 'bow down' to celebrities, and swallow their statements on theological points as if these people have instantly become theological experts when they said something loosely related to a recognition of Jesus.
Paul came to see that he could recognise 'no man after the flesh' (2Co.5:16), meaning he would not be impressed by what people were recognised for in the world. He wanted to see people as God looked at them (1Sa.16:7).
Of course, when we have to deal with people in this world, we do need to show respect wherever it is due - for their abilities, achievements, position, authority, etc. (Ro.13:7). But we need to avoid confusing between spiritual and earthly values.
There is something we need to do to ensure that what we 'build' while on earth will remain for eternity. The first thing is to recognise that only what Jesus is able to do in us and through us will remain (1Co.3:11-15). The more we get to know Him, the better we will be able to submit to Him. We will have to choose many times every day and all through our life what we would like to have, things for glory on earth or in eternity. Jesus warned us lovingly not to labour for the things that would perish with our bodies one day, but to seek after things that would last (Jn.6:27). How foolish it would be if we know this, but spend all our efforts to become great in this world! On the contrary, seek to allow Jesus to change us deep inside and make us fruitful for Him.