I take issue when others imply that I don’t value this life as much as atheists because I am hoping for a better life after this one. I feel challenged to reflect on how much I truly value this life. Do I care about what I experience in this life? Do I value this life less than non-believers because I have hopes of a “better after life”?
As a Reflective Christian, I have found myself reflecting on the magnitude of my appreciation of this life. In my early years of spiritual growth, I learned to wait for the second coming of Jesus or the Rapture. I was taught so many things about how it would be lovely to walk in the streets made of gold in the New Jerusalem. Now I have taken a different approach. I have learned recently about heaven lived in this current life.
I read in the Bible that we are valuable beings because Jesus called us “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).
Jesus taught us to love our neighbors, be peace makers, forgive, be humble, fight for righteousness, and feed the hungry, among other things, which are acts that we can only do in this life (Matthew 5). I learned to serve others unconditionally as the purpose of this life (Matthew 22:36-40). Not as a ticket to go to a better life, but because it is the reason for being, therefore it is Heaven itself (“on earth as it is in heaven” Matthew 6:10, “Kingdom is at hand” Mark 1:15″). But it is not a heaven we create ourselves, but a heaven we can live on earth because something Higher than us has shown us through Jesus. So this purpose is not someting we created or was evolved in our brains, but installed in our lives. Whether there is a physical heaven elsewhere or the Rapture will take place and lift us up to heaven , I truly don’t know. But whether we can start living heaven right now, I truly believe. But it has to be in joy, because this life is truly chaotic, unjust, unfair, difficult (“you will have tribulation” John 16:33) and must not depend on being happy or comfortable. We must rely on knowing that we are here to serve others in joy, in spite of the tribulation, because it is not about me, but about those who suffer and are considered “the least of these”, which Jesus identified as Himself. He said in John 13: 14-15, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”
Do I value this life less because I have hopes of an after life? Heaven itself can begin to be experienced in this current life, therefore, I think I value this life more than before because of this realization. Although I am still in the flesh and suffer from fatigue, hunger, sickness, and other earthly circumstances, I rest assure that I can continue to serve God by serving those surrounding me in this current life. In spite of the tribulations, I can still choose to continue to be in joy believing that I am pleasing God. This life is all I have right now to prepare me for the next life, therefore, this life is of great importance to me. Maybe we can learn from Atheists to value this life more, but most importantly, we can learn from Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves which glorifies God (not man) and automatically brings value and joy in this wonderful gift called “Life”.