Don’t Expect Heaven on Earth
By Rick Warren
— July 26, 2012
“Take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 MSG)
Many religions and New Age philosophies promote the old lie that we are divine or can become gods. Let me be absolutely clear: You will never become God or even a god.
That prideful lie is Satan’s oldest temptation. Satan promised Adam and Eve that if they followed his advice, “Ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5 KJV).
This desire to be a god shows up every time we try to control our circumstances, our future, and people around us. But as creatures, we will never be the Creator. God doesn’t want you to become a god; he wants you to become godly, taking on his values, attitudes, and character. We are meant to “take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you” (Ephesians 4:22-24 MSG).
God’s ultimate goal for your life on Earth is not comfort, but character development. He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ. Becoming like Christ does not mean losing your personality or becoming a mindless clone.
God created your uniqueness, so he certainly doesn’t want to destroy it. Christ-likeness is all about transforming your character, not your personality.
Every time you forget that character is one of God’s purposes for your life, you will become frustrated by your circumstances. You’ll wonder, “Why is this happening to me? Why am I having such a difficult time?” One answer is that life is supposed to be difficult! It’s what enables us to grow. Remember, Earth is not Heaven!
Many Christians misinterpret Jesus’ promise of the “abundant life” (John 10:10) to mean perfect health, a comfortable lifestyle, constant happiness, full realization of your dreams, and instant relief from problems through faith and prayer.
In a word, they expect the Christian life to be easy. They expect Heaven on Earth.
This self-absorbed perspective treats God as a genie who simply exists to serve you in your selfish pursuit of personal fulfillment. But God is not your servant, and if you fall for the idea that life is supposed to be easy, either you will become severely disillusioned or you will live in denial of reality.
Never forget that life is not about you! You exist for God’s purposes, not vice versa. Why would God provide Heaven on Earth when he’s planned the real thing for you in eternity? God gives us our time on Earth to build and strengthen our character for Heaven.
Talk About It
God wants you to develop the kind of character described in the Beatitudes of Jesus, the fruit of the Spirit, Paul’s great chapter on love, and Peter’s list of the characteristics of an effective and productive life (Matthew 5:1-12; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 13; 2 Peter 1:5-8).
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life." His book, "The Purpose Driven Church," was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
This devotional © 2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.