In the gospels, on many occasions, the Lord Jesus reiterated that we should seek that which lasts permanently, eternally, and not pursue after that which does not last. However, even though this is taught repeatedly by the Lord, we, somehow, in our outworking of life and ministry, often end up ‘chasing’ after that which ‘fades away’.
“Do not labour for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” (Matt. 6:27(a))
In John 7, the scene was focused on the Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths. This was a celebration to remind the people that at one time they had lived in the wilderness, travelling from Egypt to the promised land. At that time they were constantly on the move and God provided for all their needs. The feast was meant to remind them that they were still a pilgrim people. They were not to put their trust in houses, possessions; their relationship with God was the most valuable thing they had. God was saying, “Permanence is found only in Me”. This is similar to Matthew 6 where the Lord Jesus was telling the people to find their eternal life in Him, not in that which perishes (represented by the food(bread) which they were constantly seeking). We too, as believers today, need to be reminded, as the Jews did, that our homes and possessions are merely temporary things compared to our relationship with God (and Jesus); the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is of permanent, eternal significance.
We may say that Jesus is our Lord, but are we really living as if only our relationship with Him is of lasting importance? Or are we concerned about ‘getting on’ and fulfilling the expectations which society has of us? If we do not see the things of the world for what they are – fleeting, ephemeral things of no lasting value – we will always be half-hearted in our commitment to Jesus. The only thing that is going to last forever is God and ourselves in relationship with Him.
The principle also applies in our christian ministry.
“The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. ..Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-18, 20)
The seventy-two were rejoicing in the power and success of their ministry, that even the demons and spirits were subject to them in the name of Jesus. Here, they were reminded that even this was nothing in comparison with the privilege and glory of having their names written in heaven. In other words, the Lord was telling them and us that even christian ministry, no matter how successful, is temporary and cannot be compared with the permanence of having our place in eternal glory in heaven with Him.
Believers often ‘chased after’ success in ministry and we desire to have a big following and many who look up to us in admiration for our effectiveness in serving God. In the light of this, we tend to forget that the glory belongs to God alone. However, to be accepted by God and approved by Him ultimately with our place in heaven is that which is most glorious, permanent and eternal. Nothing compares.
We need the Lord to remind us again and again to seek that which will last; we also need not fret over things which are transient and temporary even though they may seem so important at a particular point of time. May God help us to nurture an eternal perspective and to invest in that which is permanent and eternal.