I’d like to debunk a myth that says, and even warns, that it’s possible to be ‘so heavenly minded to be of no earthly use’.
In Philippians 3:14 Paul smashes that notion by saying,
“I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus”
The ineffective and unsatisfying way of ‘doing’ church/life/ministry is with an attempt of delicately balancing earth and heaven like a some kind of home-improvement project (a little bit of heaven, here; a little bit of earth, there), as though the ‘reasonable balance’ was something we map out for increasing our effectiveness or that’s simply left to our own personal preferences; or that perhaps too much thought of heaven, of Jesus, is going to render us imbalanced, irrelevant and bunkered away out of touch with a hurting world.
I don’t see that in Paul’s writings and I don’t think being ‘too heavenly minded’ is possible because a fixed gaze on heaven primes our faith in its King. (See Colossians 3:2 ).
What I do see is Paul longing for his prize, his goal, his home and his Saviour. The utter marvel and mystery of ‘following Christ’ at all, with any fruitfulness, with any closeness of proximity, is possible only because of the call towards heaven from God, not of a learned skill of balancing the two realities of heaven and earth towards approved ‘usefulness’.
Paul wrestled with where he wanted to be such was his love for God, (See Philippians 1: 22-24) but he wasn’t trying to decide where his mind lived like a schitzophrenic symptom with one foot in the grave. Above all he cherished his heavenly citizenship, yet he was extremely effective and ‘useful’ while he remained.
*This is not a call to monastic passivity or chilled bean-bag worship vibes…it’s a reorientation towards a mentality that fuels our missional effectiveness.*
Paul was ‘all in’, really ‘all in’ in a way that I’m certainly not familiar with either personally or corporately.
He had a goal and he had a Goal.
He loved people to the point of often writing and speaking through tears but, without question, he knew he was called to be with Jesus.
I think this is the personal/corporate key:
*The extent of Paul’s tears for people and the degree of his longing to fully be with God are directly linked – they correspond perfectly.*
As he pressed on to ‘win the prize’ he was focused in this one direction which only made him increasingly fruitful while he remained on earth.
Like Paul, let’s give ourselves to going fully hard after God, fully hard after the kingdom, fully hard after the King.
And then see how much earthly use we’ll be!