Let’s take a much-needed break from politics today. America’s Got Talent made headlines this week when a stuntman swallowed a long rod with a target on its end. His fiancée then aimed a flaming arrow at the target. She missed, however, striking him near his neck. He was OK, and the show went on.
Here’s news in a similar vein: The Washington Post carried a story with the headline, “This asteroid almost certainly isn’t going to crash into Earth and kill us all.” There’s a one in 2,700 chance that an asteroid named Bennu will impact Earth in 150 years. Unless you plan to be alive in 2166, this isn’t news you can use. But your descendants might want to keep an eye out.
When you read about the stuntman shot by an arrow, what was your first reaction? Probably the same as when you read about the asteroid that might hit our planet in 150 years: I’m glad it’s not me.
According to The New York Times, a jailed ISIS fighter warns that the group has terrorists in England, Germany, and France trained to launch simultaneous attacks. If you don’t live in one of these three countries, this news is less alarming than if you do. It’s the same with the Zika virus—it’s less a concern unless it comes to the area where you live. Or the Emirates jet that caught fire in Dubai—you’re glad you weren’t on the plane.
It’s human nature to focus on what affects us personally. When Isaiah told Hezekiah that his descendants would be enslaved by Babylon, the king responded: “‘The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.’ For he thought, ‘Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?'” (2 Kings 20:19).
Here’s the problem: What matters to us today is seldom what will matter to us in eternity. The temporal cannot replace the eternal, or the material the spiritual. We were made to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:29). Loving anyone or anything more than we love God is idolatry. And God won’t let us find fulfillment that way, no matter how hard we try.
What can we do?
We can abandon our quest for fulfillment, choosing to “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (Isaiah 22:13). We can double down, trying harder to own or achieve more. A noted Air Force colonel was asked how much power is enough. “Just a little more,” he replied.
Or we can align our lives with our Father’s purpose for his children. Scripture calls us to “seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (1 Chronicles 16:11). God promises that “you will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
What was the secret to Moses’s monumental impact on the world? He met face to face with God (Exodus 34:34–35). What about King David? He prayed, “Your face, Lord, do I seek” (Psalm 27:8). Paul? “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). Do you see a pattern?
God’s goal for his children has always been that we would know him intimately and personally (Hebrews 8:11). That’s how we will live in heaven. Isn’t it how we should live on earth as well?
Note: For more on God’s purpose for his people, see Janet Denison’s God’s Definition of Greatness.