On an episode of House, Dr. House is questioned about his beliefs on the afterlife. He responds by saying that he refuses to believe that this life is nothing more than a test.
I've had some trouble countering that attitude. To be honest, I've felt that way for much of my life. Just trying to do all the right things in this life, always looking forward to heaven when I can finally relax. Is this life nothing more than a testing ground to see if I deserve heaven?
As I have posed questions to you on this blog on the seeming urgency conveyed in the New Testament and my emphasis on simple living, in the back of my mind is always this issue. How am I to understand my life right now versus my life to come in heaven? Should I live with utter abandon of this world for the sake of the gospel? How can I deny my desire for happiness right now? Should I suppress those desires until heaven? Are simple pleasures wrong?
I know that some would say that to seek happiness in anything other than God is wrong and will only bring disappointment. While that is mostly true, I think it's a little too simple. I can prove this to you easily. Think of your favorite food. The first thing that comes to my mind is watermelon, strawberries and grapes. Will you honestly say that delicious taste doesn't bring the slightest pleasure to you? Of course it does. But do you then feel all guilty because you found pleasure in something other than God? I'm guessing you don't.
I'm saying that God gives gifts. We are meant to enjoy them. Right here and now. If we ignore them or avoid them, we are in effect throwing them back in God's face. The gifts are always meant to bring us to thankfulness and worship of God, but the gifts themselves are not God.
So while I believe God's greatest gift is Himself, that is not His only gift to us.
I'll expand a bit more soon, attempting to back it up with Bible.