Success from an Eternal Perspective
Written by Noah Cavendish
A truly Christ-centered life often does not make much sense in this world. I know, that may seem like an outrageous statement coming from a pastoral intern in a weekly devotional but let me explain.
We live in a culture that ingrains in us the thought to live our lives today for the sole purpose of living better tomorrow. In many ways, this is great! So many of our comforts in life result from the hard work encouraged by the society we live in. In my own life, I am so blessed to have the resources and support from my parents, who have worked so hard to allow my siblings and me to succeed. And as I have moved into adulthood, I know that I too have been guided by that same culture that says I should work hard through school, internships, and jobs to be successful.
Recently however, I have been asking myself: what does it mean to be successful, not according to our culture, but according to the Bible?
I experienced this tension between cultural and Biblical views of success in my own life. I felt the call toward vocational ministry when I was young—through middle school and high school—but I lost sight of that call somewhere along the way. By the time I was about to go off to college, I had decided that I wanted to be a lawyer instead. Why? Because lawyers were successful! They made lots of money, so I would buy cool cars and live in nice houses and golf at prestigious country clubs.
Now I don’t want you to hear what I’m not saying. There are thousands of faithful, God-fearing lawyers out there, and God will undoubtedly call up more in my generation. What was wrong with that path for me was that I was neglecting God’s call on my life to pursue success in the world’s eyes instead. God’s plan was good, but mine was better (or so I thought). That’s idolatry.
I am struck by the conviction that my own actions and desires make little sense in light of the eternity God has planned for us. It is so easy to value this world more than we love the kingdom of heaven. One such parable about God’s kingdom stuck out to me recently; the parable of the hidden treasure. In Matthew 13:44, Jesus explains, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” This world seems valuable to us now, but how much more valuable is the kingdom of heaven, which lasts forever! Throughout the gospels, there are countless times when Jesus puts life into perspective in this way. Knowing the value of the eternal, beautiful plans God has made for us, our actions here on earth often won’t make sense to a culture that views life as temporary. Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again, making a way for us to know our Father in heaven! Since Christ gave His life for us, we also offer our lives to Him as a living sacrifice every day with hope and joy, knowing that the kingdom of heaven awaits us after this life. In that regard, our truly Christ-centered lives do not make much sense in this world. So, brothers and sisters, I pray that we fix our eyes on Jesus Christ. May we serve our neighbors and share the Gospel every chance we get. Just as God’s love and mercy poured out on us is so undeserved, may we act lovingly, selflessly, and joyfully in every circumstance in our lives, even when it doesn’t make sense. There is no success greater than this.