I've been really annoyed lately by how caught up in heaven and hell we seem to get. Particularly at church in our teachings to little ones. I'd so much prefer that my boys desire Christ, long to be more like him, ache for his goodness....than to make a decision for him based on where you go when you die. Or worse yet, just to avoid a bad place. That has actually (for me) so very little to do with anything about being a Christian. It's decisions, choices, an actual purposeful bent toward becoming more like Jesus, that drive me (or should). Not that I don't often long for His heavenly kingdom to come on down, show up, save the day, rescue me from all evil....that sort of thing. But if that's my motivation for serving Him (which really means serving others) then what real spiritual maturity can come out of that?
He said "Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me." Nothing mentioned there that really even sounds all that pleasant....and for me, doing that very thing has been not only unpleasant but downright painful for the past several years. And yet, it's been good spiritually. Spiritual truths have never seemed more real to me. Heaven, actually, has never seemed more real. God's kingdom is an absolute reality to me now like never before. But not in a "can't wait to get there someday" sort of way....in a here and now way. His kingdom, His truth, is all around me, here, on this earth.