Suppose a group of people have access to spiritual power, such that were they to engage with issues in society, they would be a powerful force for change that produces good in society. Let us, as initially transpired in ancient city of Antioch, label this group of people, ‘Christians’, that is, followers or disciples of Jesus Christ.
Well, if you belonged to an opposing camp — the camp of those who feed off of all that is wrong with modern society and civilization — there exists a strategy that is effective at warding off influence of the spiritual force for good that is within reach of Christians.
You attempt to convince Christians that they ought not to care about all of the issues that exist in this world, that rather they ought to focus their minds on going to heaven to be with Christ, that rather they ought to be ‘heavenly minded’.
In presence of stated interpretation of heavenly mindedness, whenever society is in upheaval in respect of social injustices, Christians assert that only those who focus their hearts and minds on the things of this world care about the fact that some are much richer than others; that they in context of their heavenly mindedness are content with the little that they have at their disposal.
Given heavenly mindedness translates into ‘a going to heaven’ only if evil becomes more predominant on earth than good, they assert that all evil transpiring on earth is will of God, as such, is not deserving of either of their attention or efforts for remediation. We arrive then at people who, ideally, ought to be a spiritual force for good (Jesus went about doing good and His followers are commanded to be like Him — Acts 10:38; Ephesians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 11:1), becoming a veritable force for evil, all because they seek to be extracted from earth for translation to heaven.
But what exactly does it mean ‘not to be of this world’; that is, what exactly does it mean for a Christian to be heavenly minded?
Well, let us hear directly from Christian Scriptures.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Put to death, therefore whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (Colossians 3:1–2, 5–6, 7–8).
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:9–10, 12–14).
The first passage cited above makes things very clear, emphatically declares that to set the mind on earthly things is to gratify bad behaviors, both those that are mutual with others — sexual immorality, impurity, and lust; and those that attempt to hurt others — evil desires in respect of neighbors and greed, that is, attempts at cheating of neighbors.
The second passage sets out what exactly it means not to be earthly minded, that is, what truly it means to be heavenly minded. In this respect, consider that each of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and a forgiving spirit only can be demonstrated in relation to living of life on earth. We arrive then at the following rational counterfactual.
In Christian Spirituality, to be heavenly minded means to attempt to create, via behaviors, character, and right treatment of others, the spiritual atmosphere of heaven on earth.
How exactly does having a lot of money mitigate against demonstration of compassion and kindness?
Could God be rich in kindness and compassion towards us if, simultaneously, He was lacking in resources?
But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:5).
But is arrival at wealth compatible with Christian Spirituality? If Jesus declares that it is difficult for a rich man to be saved, how exactly does having a lot of money enhance spirituality of a believer in Christ?
Consider, however, that Jesus does not declare an impossibility, rather merely prescribes a matter of difficulty. It is, of course, matter of fact that difficulty does not imply impossibility, rather implies relatively low probability of satisfaction. Let us then state unequivocally that which many who ought already to have spoken the truth do not make any attempt to obviate.
Jesus did not at any time declare that it is impossible for a rich man to be saved, merely that it is difficult. If a rich man pays the price — carries his or her cross and follows Jesus — he or she can be welcomed into the reign of Jesus Christ.
But then, the true humility and meekness that are required if a man is to carry his cross and follow Jesus Christ — the crux of the difficulty, which confronts the rich.
In the declaration that it is possible for a rich man to be saved, Jesus makes clear that there exists a characteristic of men who become rich that makes it difficult for them to respond to the good news of salvation.
What is this characteristic and is there evidence that a rich man can be saved? Well then, let us, once again, hear directly from Christian Scriptures.
As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous, thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed (1 Timothy 6:17–18).
As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him (Matthew 27:57–58).
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and shun evil (Proverbs 3:5–7).
It is not riches that debar from the grace of God, but rather the spiritual reality that, given money solves many problems, and given many rich men do wrong things to suppress others from becoming rich, most rich men are unwilling to entrust their decision making rubric to Jesus Christ.
If the rich entrust their decision making to God’s rubrics (implies true humility and meekness), which in part means they are not characterized by greed, and if they are rich in good deeds, liberal and generous, The Father declares that salvation is just as within their reach as it is within reach of all of mankind.
But what then about the whole matter of Jesus coming back to earth to translate those who believe in Him to heaven?
Is it possible to focus all of the energy on making the most of the time here on earth in context of demonstrations of kindness, compassion, and right treatment of others, yet have the mind prepared for translation to heaven?
Well, let us hear directly from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world (John 17:14–17).
There is not any ambiguity in the words spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ. Rather emphatically, Jesus declares that He would that The Father not take Christians out of this world, but rather that Christians would, as He is, become a force for good via the doing on earth of the will of The Father.
The Lord Jesus Christ makes clear Christians are to delight in the service that they provide to The Father in course of their sojourn on earth, are not to spend their energies asking to be taken out of the world. We have then that Jesus declares Christians are to focus on making the most of their time on earth, a command echoed in Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5.
Can a believer in Jesus Christ remain righteous if he or she continues to pray a prayer that is contrary to that of his or her Lord and Savior whom he or she claims to worship?
Whether or not Jesus will come to take those who believe in Him to heaven, Jesus declares that such an event is contrary to His desire, asks The Father that state of life on earth not arrive at such a stalemate.
If you wonder then how exactly Jesus could spend an entire book, the Book of Revelation talking about His Second Coming, well then buy my book, ‘A Spiritual Exposition of Revelations of Jesus Christ’ available on Amazon.com.
The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ emphatically declares that true religion is all about caring about how things are on earth, and exertion of efforts that He empowers for resolving of pain and suffering that comes from presence of evil on earth. In this respect, note how, in John 17:15, Jesus asks for protection from the evil one for His disciples, such that we are able to accomplish His will on earth.
For concreteness, The Father declares as follows in Isaiah 1:17, and Apostle James echoes The Father’s words in James 1:27.
Seek judgment, make happy the oppressed, judge the fatherless, strive for the widow (Isaiah 1:17).
Religion pure and undefiled with the God and Father is this, to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation — unspotted to keep himself from the world (James 1:27).
If Christians have wealth that is not ill gotten, wealth that derives from pursuit of businesses whose underpinnings are righteous, they find it easier to defend the fatherless, the widow, and the orphan — symbols of those who experience oppression in this world.
But does The Father promise any help in respect of acquiring of wealth for doing of His will on earth, for producing of atmosphere of heaven on earth, such that we refrain from praying a prayer — removal from earth to heaven — that via His prayer, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ declares an evil prayer (a prayer that can explicitly be shown to be contrary to the will of God is an evil prayer)?
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14).
Pointing to His disciples, He said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother (Matthew 12:49–50).”
And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day (Deuteronomy 8:18).
Our Lord Jesus Christ declares that He will give us power to make the most of our time on earth, that we are not to pine for removal from earth, but rather to ask for power to be His agents for good in this world.
Our Lord Jesus Christ commands all who believe in His name to be heavenly minded, that is, to seek to create spiritual atmosphere of heaven — compassion, kindness, love, forgiveness, wealth that blesses — on earth.
Will you not believe and accept testimony of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?