In his book, What God Wishes Christians Knew About Christianity, Bill Gillham provides an eye-opening quiz to help you get your priorities straight.
Gillham asks us to imagine heaven with a miserable environment, hot, arid, and terribly crowded everywhere. No beauty, wildlife or flowers, just dust and dreariness. You would be required to work hard in the fields all day, under a blazing sun. But—your coworker, best friend and constant companion would be Jesus Christ. He would labor alongside you, answering all your questions about life, encouraging you, loving you, pouring out all the secrets of his heart.
Now imagine hell as a gorgeous paradise, overflowing with beauty, animals, stunning trees and wildflowers. Everyone would feast on gourmet food and live in luxurious mansions. Every type of entertainment would be available, from music concerts to fishing, skiing, and every imaginable sport. Satan would be banished to another realm, never to bother anyone again. The only thing that would be missing would be Jesus. He would be in the desert heaven.
So, which place would you choose?
Seeking God For HimselfDo you constantly ask God to shower you with his favor? If you do, do you also ask your spouse or someone who loves you to prove their love with a steady stream of gifts? It's not only tiring, it's insulting.
God proved his love for you on Calvary, when he sacrificed his only son so you can be saved from your sins and enjoy eternal life. God continues to bless you with your health, friends and family, your job, food, a place to live, and countless other good things.
When we seek God's favor instead of a deeper relationship with him, it's like choosing that plush hell where Jesus was conspicuously absent. It's choosing the gifts instead of the giver.
Jesus assured us that if we first seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, all our needs will be taken care of. God is well aware of our "wants" as well, but what loving parent gives their child everything they want?
You Don't Have to Wait Until HeavenMaybe the more dissatisfied we are here on Earth, the more we long for a rewarding, problem-free heaven. It's natural to want something better.
The point is that you don't have to wait until you get to heaven to have an intimate, passionate relationship with Jesus. You can have that right here, right now. To believe you have to wait until you die and get to heaven to be close to the Lord is to fall for another of Satan's lies.
Christ offers himself to each one of us. As you let him in, through his Holy Spirit, you will find that your outer life and your circumstances may not improve, but your inner life is transformed. You'll know the joy and relief Paul spoke of when he said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)
Even as Jesus helps you face your current crises, you'll realize that surrendering to him is not desiring him for what he can do for you, but desiring him for himself. This is the exchanged life, the abiding in the vine that makes you strong when you are weakest.
Having Christ inside you will shrink your problems. It changes your focus from the outside world to what you've gained within. You'll sense that something amazing has happened. When you're deeply in love with someone, you're content just to spend time with them. You bask in their presence. No words need to be spoken. Nearness is enough.
How to Want What God WantsGod wants an intimate relationship with you even more than you want it with him. He is always eager to deepen your mutual closeness.
Pour your heart out to him in prayer. He knows your secrets anyway, but when you trust him with your innermost hurts and longings, he will respond with his healing love, giving you comfort and understanding.
Praise God for his holiness. Because his character is spotless, only good can come from him to you. Thank him for accepting you with your faults and shortcomings.
Read your Bible with a sense of expectancy. God will speak to you from his written Word, giving the guidance and encouragement you need.
We're assured that heaven will be a place of indescribable beauty and joy, because that's where God is. The relationship you build with him while you are here will only be magnified when you meet him face to face.
So seek Jesus for himself. Pursue him with all your heart, because he is the greatest gift of all.
Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian Web site for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.