Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal- a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body. D. L Moody 1837-1899
For our homeland is heaven where our saviour, the Lord Jesus is, and we are looking forward to His return from there (Philippians 3v20: The Living Bible)
Several years ago I traveled to Oyo town in Oyo state to be at the burial ceremony of the father of one of my very good friends.. The man died at the age of 89. It was really good traveling that distance and enjoying the usual serenity that is the hallmark of a village setting.
But for me, that journey would have been incomplete without a book I had earlier bought in Lagos, while getting ready for the four-hour journey. The book, titled, Heaven Awaits, was written by Dwilight Moody, a 19 century preacher who had influenced two continents: Europe and America, during his life time and many generations and nations of the world after he had long gone to be with the Lord.
Moody’s book in a way kindled a new fire in me and made me begin to reflect on the subject of eternity. Before then I had wondered why we talk less about heaven and place so much emphasis on the earth. I have heard some preachers preach that it is wrong to be heavenly conscious and earthly useless. Good talk. But the issue has been that we don’t even seem to talk about heaven.
Take a statistics of the messages on our pulpits and you will be shocked that the bulk of the messages are earth-centric. But that was not the case with Jesus when he lived here on earth. Most of Jesus’ sermons and parables were about heaven. But for us in the present world, our messages are based on the demand of the hour. There is nothing wrong in preaching a message that is relevant to the times we live because we have to live here on earth before going to heaven. But if heaven is our home, why don’t we talk about home? Who is afraid of going home? Have you ever seen an ambassador who does not talk about his country and who does not long for his country?
As I traversed that long stretch from Lagos to Oyo, I kept my gaze on eternity and asked probing questions. Why is it that we are so agitated when the issue of death is mentioned? If we are so sure of heaven why are we afraid of dying? Why is it that we are quick to give in if anything threatens our faith? More questions kept pouring through my heart.
Many of us believe those who die whether through whatever means are doomed.
This is shown in the way we give our testimonies. We are quick to say on our pulpits while thanking God for a new year that some people died last year but God has spared us. Now the question: Is it a crime to die? And when we say things like is it that their death was not justifiable and that they were doomed? Don’t they have hope? Those are the kinds of questions Moody took time to answer in the book: Heaven Awaits
But I also observed that many professed Christians don’t have the hope of eternity. We are not just sure of where we are going. While we claim to be Christians, we are so naïve about the issue of heaven. As these questions played within my mind, the spirit of God said to me, “Christianity and the hope of heaven is not a game of chance” It is either we are sure of eternity or not. There is no middle ground. A believer should be sure of where he will end up. If that hope is not there, then he is finished.
Paul took time to explain in his epistles that we should not sorrow like others who don’t have hope when a loved one sleeps in Christ. In most cases the early believers were said to have slept in the Lord. In the days of Paul, the assurance of heaven was so strong. He wrote in Philippians 4v3 that the names of some of his co-labourers in God’s vineyard had already been written in the book of life. Can today’s pastors say that of some of their members? Apostle Paul got to a point in his life that he said, “For me to live, is Christ and to die is gain” Philippians 1v21. He even got to a point where he was confused whether to go to be with the Lord or to stay on.
But for many of us, death is like an accursed thing? If we live in the fear of death, there is something fundamentally wrong with our Christianity. The fact is that a believer does not die, he only goes home, he changes abode. But he has to shed his physical body to put on immortality. When many of us pray that we will not die but live to do the works of God, it is not because of the works of God that we are praying to live long; it is in some cases because of our selfish agenda.
We want to marry, we want to build more houses, we want eat the so called fruit of our labour. Now, churches are spending so much on building and more buildings. I absolutely have nothing against that. But I think there is need for caution. No matter how grandiose a building is, it will be eaten up by moth in the long run. No building lasts forever.
Moody wrote in the book I talked about earlier, “look at the cities of the past. There is Babylon. It was founded by a woman named Semiramis. She had two million men at work building it. It is nothing but dust now. Nearly a thousand years ago, some historians wrote that the ruins of Nebuchadnezzer’s palace were still standing but men were afraid to go near them because they were full of scorpions and snakes.
“That is the sort of ruins that greatness often comes to in our own day…Corinth, once the seat of luxury and art is only a shapeless mass now…Ephesus, long the metropolis of Asia, the Paris of that day was crowded with buildings as large as the capitol at Washington. I am told it looks like a neglected graveyard now than anything else”
Coming home we have the once attractive building owned by Darusha, one of Nigeria’s earliest most wealthy individual. The building which is located on the Island on your left side close to the third mainland bridge where you have the bill board of Airtel is now being inhabited by snakes. Why spend so much on building and material things when we will not take anything out of this world, why?
When our perspective is right, God does not have problem granting us long life. But that does not mean to say those who don’t live long are unfortunate people. A Christian should not die young though. God has promised that the life of man would be 120. I key into that and I believe it is possible to live up to that age in good health. But it is not of God when we live in perpetual fear of death (shedding the mortal body) We have a home that we should long to go.
If you are sure of your home, you will long to be there. It is only when people are not sure of their homes that they exercise fear. The Bible records that “if in this world we have hope, we are of all men most miserable”. It is when we have not fully repented of our evil deeds that we are afraid of home. The prodigal son was only confident of home after he had repented and was looking forward to a benevolent father. He said, “I will arise and go to my father” Are we ready for home? Somebody says heaven had been prepared for prepared people. If we are certain of home, we will not lay for ourselves treasures here on earth where cankerworm will eventually destroy. The good news is that home starts the day we embrace Jesus. We are already seated with Jesus in the heavens. What we are waiting for is the change from mortality to immortality.