By Submitted Article on October 3, 2020.
Last of three parts
Jacob M. Van Zyl
On top of its social and cultural aspects, belonging includes dedication to a cause.
Generating funds to battle poverty or disease at a specific place, spreading the gospel near and far away, being part of a family enterprise, or lifelong service in nursing or policing may get into people’s blood and define who they are.
The many hours spent on such a cause, the efforts and sacrifices made, and the money put into it, make people identify so strongly with that goal that it becomes part of their being.
This kind of dedication usually has no retirement age. The late Billy Graham kept preaching until he was in his 80s. Charles Stanley and David Jeremiah follow his example.
Where physical ability is essential, as in sports, retirement usually comes in the person’s early 30s, but the interest in that activity my last a lifetime.
Both John the Baptizer and Jesus started their ministry with the call, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2, 4:17). For them, this was the goal people had to focus on: God’s kingdom.
Jesus’ model prayer starts with God’s name, kingdom, and will. The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) explains the principles of that kingdom. Jesus told several parables to highlight certain aspects of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 13).
Human “kingdoms” come and go, usually leaving in their wake some successes and many failures. It is also the history of individual lives – a mixed bag of good and bad.
God’s kingdom is totally different from earthly kingdoms and regimes. For those who enter the kingdom of heaven through Christ, an eternity of joy awaits them after the death of their bodies.
First, their souls experience a spiritual heaven in presence of God the Father, Jesus his Son and the Holy Spirit. After the resurrection of their bodies, they will have love, joy and peace in abundance on the New Earth where God will be present and all calamities absent (Rev. 21:1-7).
It seems a no-brainer what the best choice is; and yet, only one-third of the world’s population has made this obvious decision.
Belonging to this cause and goal – God’s kingdom and eternal joy – is the ultimate form of belonging. Nothing this world can offer compares with what our Father, Redeemer and Comforter have in store for us.
The apostles and early Christians worn out many sandals for the cause of spreading the gospel. They tasted both the joy of winning people for Christ and the pain of persecution and torture. They paid the price with gladness, for the goal was worth the sacrifices.
How much time, effort and money do we invest in our eternal belonging?
Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.