Seems to make sense to me. Having something fun and exciting to look forward to can make even a mundane life more bearable. Knowing that there is something pleasurable waiting for us in the future can make the days leading up to that vacation pleasant. A wise friend once gave this advice to someone who was wondering if they could hold up just a few more weeks until retirement – “You can stand on your head for three weeks if you have to!” Knowing that there’s a beachside bungalow or a mountainside cabin waiting for us empowers us to make it through even dark days.
I appreciate the research but don’t these conclusions seem to be a no-brainer for Christians? It’s called hope and it’s all over the pages of the Bible. The destination is called heaven and it’s been the bright future that has brought strength and endurance and joy to even the most difficult of faithful lives. It’s the “vacation” we have booked that brings us feelings of positivity and motivation.
The writer of the New Testament book called Hebrews gives us a simple explanation as to how Jesus could suffer the way he did – “For the joy set before him he endured the cross.” That joy was heaven. That joy was being with God. It’s that joy that kept him going and the same joy will keep you going.
I read a book awhile back called “The Slumber of Christianity” by Ted Dekker. His main contention was that we have turned Christianity into simply a pragmatic lifestyle focusing primarily on how it can make our lives better here. And I agree it can do that, but take heaven away and we really lose that deep and lasting hope believers need to be faithful and effective. He called for more sermons and teaching on heaven. I think he has a point.
Consider this paraphrase of that passage that I referenced above from The Message by Eugene Peterson:
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!Christian, you have a holiday booked paid for by the blood of Jesus. Shouldn’t we be experiencing The Holiday Halo Effect? Or should we call it The Heaven Halo Effect?