At first a song so overtly focused on Heaven seems a touch impractical. It may be inspiring, touching, and even comforting, but we are not convinced it is entirely relevant when the mundane grind of Monday morning comes and what we crave is impact and efficiency. This impression could not be further from the truth.
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13
This is one of the most convicting and provoking passages in the entire Bible for me. Peter commands us to set our hope fully, entirely, on what awaits us at the return of Jesus. This runs so completely counter to the way most of us live out our days. Our hopes, our dreams, our desires are fixated on how we want the next several months to unfold. Perhaps for the really forward thinking, hyper-planning personality, the landscape of our hope might include the next few years. Can you honestly think of anyone who is just absolutely obsessed with their destiny in the age to come?
Paul was of the same mind as Peter, for they were both inspired to write by the Holy Spirit. At the close of his first letter to the church in Corinth, he says that if the only hope we have in Christ is in this life now, we are of all men to be most pitied (1 Cor. 15:19). Why? Paul could say this because he was so consumed with the reward of the resurrection that he made sacrificial decisions that would otherwise be incomprehensible (1 Cor. 15:30-31). Are our lives utterly pathetic and pitiable if our bodies will not be raised up in glory when Christ returns? Or do we simply blend in with the world and find both our joy and pain from things strikingly similar to those who are unregenerate? The apostle condemns those believers who have their minds set on earthly things and reminds the church in Philippi that our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we eagerly await the return of our Savior (Phil. 3:19-21). Likewise, Paul begins the third chapter to the Colossians with the following admonition:
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4
God is not a naïve idealist. God alone is wise (Rom. 16:27), and when He inspired these words, He was keenly aware of the harsh realities of life under the sun in this present evil age (Gal. 1:4). It is precisely because of these dynamics that the Lord commands us to have our gaze locked on the glory of Jesus above and the hope of His return ahead (2 Cor. 4:16-18). It is the only way to not be swept away in the cares of this world or drown from the weight of its disappointments. If we are not “laying hold of eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:12) morning by morning, both pleasure and pain pose a dire threat to our faith. Eternal life isn’t an insurance policy designed to pacify our worries about death so that we can focus more fully on what is right in front of us. The biblical vision is almost the opposite. Eternal life is the point, and this is the precursor.
So far from being irrelevant, the truths of this song are essential. We need to sing it loud until our throats are raw and we actually live like it is real.