The great teaching pastor we listened to the first 5 years after we were born again used to regularly say , “Don’t be so heavenly-minded you’re no earthly good’’. I’m not even sure our pastor told us where he heard that quote,but he would repeat it a lot. Coming from an old-time pentecostal upbringing in England,he might have needed to remind himself of that more than we did. I get it that we can’t be unable to function in real life due to our spirituality. Our spirituality or our awareness of God should help us be MORE effective on earth. Col 3:23 says, “ And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”.
Then one day I was reading the brilliant intellectual Christian writings of CS Lewis in “Mere Christianity” and saw this: A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this (one). Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in:” aim at earth and you will get neither.
(Mere Christianity, p.134)
In Luke 18:8, Jesus mentions and refers to this topic of being effective and helpful on the earth without exercising faith in a heavenly reward in a discussion about prayer. He says that prayer and exercising faith on the earth gets a heavenly response on the earth. “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
You can also easily surmise a correlation between living a life here on earth withOUT exercising faith or acknowledging God and living only for our pleasures is NOT a life of faith. To do what we want every day may be safe and fun and pleasureable but it is hardly “walking in the Spirit” and is NOT “in all your ways,acknowledge Him…” Without living a life of faith,risk and adventure can any honest person say it is really a walk of faith?
I visit churches in our area and in other cities from time to time if I am not preaching somewhere else. And the more churches I am in or go to, I see a startling conformity and sameness, a “cloning” of sorts,the same thing in so many churches: an aversion to being different,a desire to be “normal”, a desire to appear “safe” , to avoid “surprises” that would cause any discomfort to guests. While I think If you own a store or restaurant that is a good tactic,pastors are torn because they have to grow and increase to survive and the less safe and more unexpected things guests see or are exposed to,the more likely they are not to come back.
Maybe it is an aversion to the spirit of religion? Or maybe it’s an over reaction to what many have seen growing up in church where zeal and fervor were more evident than fruit. But you can’t be passionate and remain quiet. You can’t be “on fire” and remain subdued. People don’t reject leaders for their personality. People need vision and sense life and passion and fervor is part of that. If we haven’t been effected by the heavenly than its hard to get people excited about theories. Paul was so ruined by His encounter with Jesus and the heavenly vision he experienced on the road to Damascus it transformed him forever and so he mentioned it to King Agrippa in his defense.(Acts 26:19)
But are churches really even called to attract the lost? Or are they to equip the found to go find and win the lost? Aren’t churches supposed to be for the “EKKLESIA”, the called out ones? More and more they are about comfort,safety and info-tainment. So when churches begin to look more and more like an info-mercial for a blender,isn’t it likely that we have taken the “supernatural” aspect out of church meetings so as to avoid any unpleasant surprises. People don’t get excited about knowledge, they get excited when someone communicates vision and passion. Are churches becoming so earthly minded they are no earthly good? Are we so earthly minded we are no heavenly or earthly good? But can we really be any earthly good if we are not heavenly minded? I think CS Lewis is right!