Is Being a Christian a Present Reality or a Future Hope?

Our perspective on what it means to follow Jesus shapes how we think and act

Is Being a Christian a Present Reality or a Future Hope?I’ve met people so fixated on heaven that they squander their time here on earth. Not only do they miss the opportunities before them, but they also offer a negative example to the world of what it means to be a Christian. They treat life as a burden and react to every disappointment as a stoic martyr. With long faces they measure their time on earth as an ordeal to endure, one that prevents them from obtaining heavenly bliss.

Yes, our future hope in heaven is significant, but if that’s the only reason to be a Christian, we’re missing what God wants from us and has to give us – now.

Life is a gift, an amazing gift to enjoy and to use and to share. We need to make each minute count for Jesus today, not sit in a corner and count each minute until it’s time to leave.

Years ago I largely missed the delight of my senior year in high school because I was so fixated on what was to come next. High school loomed as a time to tolerate, a hurdle to jump over, before I could move on with life. I even let relationships languish because I didn’t see them as part of my post high school reality. I lost that time and can’t reclaim it.

Yes, I can’t wait to get to heaven and enjoy eternal ecstasy, but I also can’t wait for the opportunities of each new day. In some small way I want to be the hands, the face, and the love of Jesus to those I meet. I want to encourage those who are discouraged, to help those in need, and to point those who are searching to a better way.

When Jesus told us to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11), it was a reminder to take each day as it comes, one day at a time, and not rush to the next one. We need to make the most of today, whether it is our last one or we have thousands more.

God has given me my time on earth for a reason. If I don’t make the best of it, I may not be ready to fully embrace my future with him in heaven.

As the saying goes, “Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.” We need to live it to the full for Jesus.

[This is from the October issue of Peter DeHaan‘s newsletter, “Spiritually Speaking.”  Receive the complete newsletter each month.]

What’s the Meaning of Manna?

When the nation of Israel was in the desert between Egypt and the land God promised to give them, stuck in time-out, they needed something to eat. God supernaturally provided a substance called manna. It sustained them for forty years while in the Sinai Peninsula. Although the Bible describes manna, the explanation leaves me wanting. Apparently it was a nutritious foodstuff. It had multiple uses and physically nourished them, either in part or in whole, while living in the desert.

In a practical sense, God gave them manna to keep them alive. However, there’s more.

Moses writes that:

  • God humbled his people. Being hungry will do that. Consider the implications to fasting.
  • In their hunger, God provided for them.
  • The lesson in this was that “man does not live on bread alone.” Yeah, Moses said that. Does it sound familiar?
  • In addition to eating manna (bread) for physical sustenance, God wanted his people to also depend on him for their spiritual sustenance, living on his words – all of them.

Several centuries later, when Satan tempted Jesus to perform a miracle in order to feed himself, Jesus quoted Moses: “Man shall not live on bread alone.” The implication is that even more important than eating food, is hearing God. Spiritual needs trump the physical.

But there’s more. Later, when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, one phrase was “Give us today our daily bread.” This is a request to meet both our physical and our spiritual needs.

Manna is a means to live, both physically and spiritually; we need both every day.

[Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4, Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:3]

What Sycamore Tree Do We Need to Climb?

There was a man in Jericho who was boss of the people who collected taxes; he was quite rich. He wanted to catch a glimpse of Jesus, but couldn’t because he was a short rascal and the taller people blocked his view.

Ever resourceful, he ran ahead of the throng and climbed a tree; it was a sycamore. From his perch he watched Jesus walk towards him. The view was great and he finally achieved his objective; he got to see Jesus.

When Jesus reached the tree he glanced up and said, “Hey, dude, can I hang out at your place?

Not only did Shorty, as known as Zacchaeus, get to see Jesus, but he would soon have some one-on-one time. That was quite a reward for his diligence (Luke 19:1-10).

Although we don’t need to literally climb a sycamore tree to see Jesus, I wonder if it can be a metaphor for us to do whatever we need to do to see him. Maybe we need to slow down, not work so much, or watch less TV. Perhaps a relationship is in our way or the desire to accumulate money, power, and prestige. Or could it simply be that we’re in our own way, stubborn, closed-mind, or procrastinating.

Perhaps each of us has our own “sycamore tree” that we need to climb to see Jesus.

What would you add to the list?

Why Do We Ask For Our Daily Bread?

Jesus taught his disciples to ask God for their daily bread, that is, the food they needed for the day.

Just as God provided manna for the Israelites in the desert, the implication is God will meet our needs each day.

We are not to ask for enough for the week, the month, or the whole year, but for only one day, today. Tomorrow we will need to ask again.

The instruction to ask daily isn’t because God is only powerful enough to supply our need for one day, but because God doesn’t want us to take him for granted. And if we seek him each day, that’s not likely to happen.

Plus, I think he enjoys hearing from us each morning.

[Exodus 16:14-32, Matthew 6:11]

What is Manna?

When the nation of Israel was in the desert, God provided food for them each day. The Israelites called it manna and it miraculously appeared every morning. The manna would provide them with the sustenance they needed for that day. If they tried to gather extra and stockpile it, it would turn bad (except for the Sabbath). God gave them what they needed for that day but no more; it was essentially their daily bread.

Later on, Jesus instructed his disciples to pray for God to give them their “daily bread.” The disciples surely connected that with Moses and the manna in the desert, and as a result they were assured God would faithfully provide for them each day.

This is just one of many amazing ways the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are connected.

Manna is the daily bread that God faithfully provides.

[Exodus 16:14-32, Matthew 6:11]