Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next.” Elisabeth, whose firm grip on God’s promises was always a supreme encouragement to me, went to the full presence of the Lord a year ago this week after a decade-long battle with dementia. She left behind her faithful third husband Lars Gren whom she married in 1977 after losing her second husband Addison Leitch to cancer in 1973 and her first husband Jim Elliot to cannibals on the mission field in 1956.
Do we remember, sisters, that this world is not our home? Just last week here in Orlando we had singer Christina Grimmie (outspoken about her Christian faith) shot point-blank during an autograph session, 49 people killed and 53 wounded in the deadliest mass shooting in American history at Pulse nightclub downtown, and a two-year-old boy killed by an alligator as he waded in a lagoon at Disney while his father desperately tried to free him from the gator’s jaws. I’ve seen incredible hatred, judgement, and politicizing all these events as people—politicians, celebrities, and civilians alike—provide commentary on television and social media.
Sin is ugly, and it has ugly consequences. We’re all familiar with Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.” That’s easy to remember when we see tragedy every time we turn around. But the rest of the verse contains the breathtaking truth: “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Do we give thanks for that with every breath, sister? Do we speak about it every chance we get? C.S. Lewis said in The Weight of Glory, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
We hear a lot these days that Christians should stop hating. And you know what? They’re right. When the Pharisee lawyer asked Jesus in Matthew 22:36 “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered (vv 37-40) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
How can we love our neighbors? In practical ways: donate money, time, or blood; bring food in crisis and water when it’s hot out; care for children; provide for widows and orphans; be a shoulder to cry on, and so much more. But how can we best love our neighbors? By sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
“…the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:22-25)
In these hard times, just as in all times since time began, we are not promised tomorrow. But if we repent of our sin and have faith in the work Jesus accomplished on the cross facing the fullness of God’s wrath for our sin, regardless of what happens we know where we are bound. Because we are in Christ, our eternal life has already begun, though we “now see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
And when we are before the face of God, “He will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Our ultimate hope can be in no stronger foundation than Jesus Christ our Lord. Cling to Him, sister, now and forevermore.
In His love,