will my habits make it to heaven?
Oh, I really didn't want to write this one... because I know once I write it, I have no choice but to practice what I preach. God keeps telling me to write it, and I keep saying "tomorrow". Well, tomorrow has become today so let's get it over with!
How many of you guys watch ABC's popular tv show The Bachelor? Maybe you also watch its spin-offs, The Bachelorette or Bachelor in Paradise. If you don't watch any of these shows (good for you honestly) allow me to give you a quick overview compliments of Wikipedia:
"The series revolves around a single bachelor who starts with a pool of romantic interests from whom he is expected to select a wife. During the course of the season, the bachelor eliminates candidates, culminating in a marriage proposal to his final selection. The participants travel to romantic and exotic locations for their adventures, and the conflicts in the series, both internal and external, stem from the elimination-style format of the show."
Okay so basically this is a trashy reality tv show with a bunch of ridiculously attractive yet completely immature/self-absorbed singles all competing with each other for "love". There is really nothing wholesome or righteous about it, but you best believe that every Monday night when it airs, I am glued to my seat in front of the TV screen, ready to get my fill of the drama.
I love it. I'm completely obsessed despite the obvious lack of substance.
Thankfully it only airs once a week, and only runs for a portion of the calendar year! However, this last Monday as I settled in for another two-hour episode (yes they are all that long!) God decided it was time for a chat.
What will you do with your Monday nights in heaven?
Okay well first of all God, I doubt we will have Mondays and I'm pretty sure the Bible says "no more night"... but I knew what he was getting at. There will not be trashy tv shows in heaven. Perhaps that is obvious to you, but it really got me thinking. How many of my daily activities are actually worth my time?
I started making a mental list of all the things I like to do, and then I started to cross off the things I couldn't imagine doing in heaven. Thankfully not ALL of my favorite activities involve TV or drama, but it was still a much-needed reality check. If I won't be doing it in heaven, why am I so comfortable with doing it right now?
Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating for an extremist lifestyle or world perspective. In fact, let me be 100% transparent with you and admit that this coming Monday I will once again be watching my favorite useless show. My point is, the worldly activities that I enjoy so much should really only take up a fraction if any, of my time and attention. If I get to a point in my life where all I do is watch Netflix, scroll through social media, binge eat, go shopping excessively, read tabloids, etc. I seriously don't know how I'll be happy in heaven.
Oh but Melissa, in heaven there is no more death or sadness! Surely just that fact alone will cause all the heavenly activities to be enjoyable!
Actually I strongly disagree. While it is true that God will transform us when he comes again, I don't think he will transform us so much that we aren't even ourselves anymore. We must develop the beginnings of our heavenly hobbies now.
So what exactly is a "heavenly hobby"? Does this mean all I should be doing in my free time is praying and reading the Bible? Hey, don't knock it until you try it! But again, let me remind you that I'm not advocating for some sort of extremist lifestyle. Instead, let's look at the Bible and its advice on how to spend our time:
1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The things that are so appealing on earth are really just the products of great marketing and bandwagoning tactics. We like it because other people like it. We like it because it's pretty. We like it because someone told us it would make our lives better. I keep watching the Bachelor because almost every episode ends on a cliffhanger- promising more sensationalism the next time I tune in. But at the end of the day when we take a moment to go a little deeper, we realize that the majority of our earthly hobbies are meaningless. They are "of the world", based on pride, and only carry superficial value.
A heavenly hobby is something that builds character and helps me become a better version of myself. While this naturally includes spiritual and faith-based activities, there are more options than that. I think sports and physical fitness activities make great hobbies. I think arts and crafts, music, and other creative endeavors are worth our time. I think anything that gets me out of the house and involved in the greater good of my community is time well spent. I think pets are wonderful investments. Sometimes we think anything that God approves of is boring or lifeless but that is not the case! Actually, the activities that will likely transition into heavenly lifestyle are the ones with the deepest meaning and value even in our world today.
In studying the Bible on this matter I came across a passage in the Bible in Ecclesiastes 9. If you have time, pause your reading of this post and go read that chapter. Maybe read it through a couple of times- there is a lot to unpack! If you don't have that kind of time I will do my best to summarize.
At first glance, this information is confusing. Readers of the chapter are going, "Woohoo! I can do whatever I want! God doesn't care! No rules! No restrictions!" This idea comes from the phrase Solomon uses which says all our days on earth are "meaningless" to God. But before you get to carried away you better give it some more thought. I think what Solomon (ahem, the wisest King) is really promoting is balance. He is telling us that while we are here on earth we might as well enjoy it, but we also must keep in mind that we are on a time limit. A time limit to witness. A time limit to know God. A time limit to develop our characters. Solomon explains that death is looming ahead of us. He is saying we only have right now to carry out our earthly destiny. We should make the most of it- including in our lives activities of pleasure but especially activities that mold our character. He closes the chapter with a story about the value of wisdom:
Ecclesiastes 9:13-18 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siegeworks against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded. The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.
As we mindlessly sit down for another Hulu marathon, maybe we should think twice. Think about the actions of the wisest people you know. Do they spend all their free time in their PJ's eating ice cream out of the carton? Probably not. It's time to get off the couch and go develop our talents and grow our hobbies in a way that will glorify God and better our world.
Romans 12: 6-8 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Save the PJ's and ice cream for later. Go make the world a better place today.