When we lived on the Northern Beaches in Sydney, there were some spectacular views along the coastline, especially when one drove along the cliffs and could see the beaches below. Perhaps one of the best views was from the Bible Garden looking down to Palm Beach. Interestingly, some people (not all) who have spent megabucks purchasing their dream mansion along the coastline were soon bored with the view and after a while rearranged their furniture so that they didn’t have to look at the ocean all day or sold their mansion. I am not too sure how you could be bored with those great views, but some were. Perhaps I would be too if all I had was the ocean to look at.
Now you may be wondering, “Where is this going?” Well, it’s going to the graveyard! I once attended a graveside service on the northern beaches in NSW and I overheard the comment, “I would like to buried here – it has such a great view?” Well, I could certainly appreciate the view, it was spectacular, to say the least, but I have a strong suspicion that the Christian brother we buried that day is enjoying a far better view in glory. Sometimes we need to be reminded, despite the tranquil and picturesque surroundings at cemeteries, our loved ones are in glory and not in the grave looking up or out to some picturesque scenery. Dearie me, if that is how we think we will spend eternity, it will be very disappointing, for even the best scenery soon becomes ‘dead’ boring.
This past week we laid to rest the earthly remains of a brother in Christ. I mention earthly remains, for as Christians, although we wish to show respect to the earthly body, we don’t believe for a moment that our soul (spirit) remains with the body nor do we believe that this is the body we will have in eternity. There is enough evidence in Scripture to understand that from the moment we breathe our last our soul goes to be with the Lord (Jn 11:25-26; Rev 6:9ff). Furthermore, when Jesus returns there will be a great resurrection and Christians will be changed in the twinkling of an eye and be given glorified bodies that are fit to live with our Saviour forever. We will no longer have perishable bodies, but imperishable. While on earth, we have the image of the man of dust, but when the last day arrives we will bear the image of the man of heaven (1 Cor 15:42ff).
So, let’s be thankful that Scripture teaches that the grave is not the end and that heaven will be something spectacular. How good? I wish I could tell you, but I cannot. Even the man (possibly Paul) recorded as seeing the ‘third heaven’ and being ‘caught up into paradise’ was not allowed to utter what he had seen (2 Cor 12:1-4). But this I do know, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor 2:9).
So let’s not be too concerned about the views around us, not when we are living nor when we are buried. Rather, let us be concerned presently that we love the Lord dearly, and continue to fan into flame the gift of faith that He has given us. JZ
Pastor John Zuidema
Since 1997 Pastor John has been ministering to Churches across Australia and New Zealand.