The other day I received this great Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote in my email inbox as a “Quotemeal” from Heartlight.org:
There remains for us only the very narrow way, often extremely difficult to find, of living every day as though it were our last, and yet living in faith and responsibility as though there were to be a great future.
This made me think of the seeming dichotomy between Christians being citizens of Heaven and not of earth, while at the same time living as if preservation of the gift of earth that God has given us is our most important aim.
Just as a tenant may be less likely to take as good of care of a house as the owner, so it seems that one who claims to be a citizen of Heaven would be less likely to take good care of the earth they are merely “renting” for a time. But appearances are not always what they seem to be, and dichotomies are meant to converge in the Kingdom of God.
Those of us who claim citizenship in Heaven are called by our King to nonetheless take the utmost care of our present home and make the most of our current situation here on earth, all to the glory of our King.
As part of the parable of the shrewd manager, Jesus said:
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?” Luke 16:10-12 (NLT).
Humans have been entrusted with the care of this earth, and if we don’t take good care of it how will we ever be trusted with the care of any part of Heaven? As Christians, we are entrusted with sharing the Gospel with others in a loving and humble way. If we do not take great care with this responsibility here on earth, how will we be trusted with greater responsibility in God’s Kingdom? As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NLT). We must be faithful citizens of Heaven, and we show our faithfulness by caring for those things and those people God has put us in charge of in this life and on this earth.
Are you living as if today may be your last here on this earth, while simultaneously living as if you have a whole lifetime ahead of you to do the work that God has put before you? As Bonhoeffer said, this is a narrow way and can be difficult to find. But God, through His Holy Spirit, will show us the way.