What is my motivation as I follow Jesus? I think for most of my life, it has been to meet the expectations of the people around me. In other words I have been seek the approval of people rather than of God.
The apostle Paul opens the letter to the Colossians with an interesting thought. One that took me by surprise. This is what he wrote:
We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News. (Colossians 1:3-5; NLT)
If I am honest I have to admit that I have not been looking forward to heaven. My hope has settled on a nice and pleasant life right now. Now wonder my motivation for following Jesus has been the approval of other people!
This motivation also comes with a cost. When I am unable to live up to people’s expectations or when I am rejected by another person, then my faith in Jesus takes a hit. I wonder how God could allow that to happen when I have been so faithful. In reality it has nothing to do with God and has everything to do with the fact that my motivation for following Jesus has been wrong.
What does it mean to hope for heaven?
- It means that I realize that this world cannot meet my deepest longings, desires, or needs.
- It means that I value my relationship with God above everything else. There must be a longing to experience this relationship at its best, when it is no longer marred by the presence of sin.
- It means that I long to live life the way God designed life to be lived.
When I first read this passage I thought that the Colossians were selfish in their motivation for following Jesus. As I continued to ponder these verses I realized that it was my motivation that was selfish. The Colossians motivation flows naturally from a person who desires to truly follow Jesus. Their desire was to be with Jesus for eternity. My motivation on the other hand is rooted in trying to create the life I always wanted. The focus is on my life rather than on Jesus.