Where do you belong? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Many Christians today have an idea that the Earth is just a temporary place. As someone who used to listen to southern Gospel constantly, I remember those songs well that referred to Earth in such language. Just as I started writing this, I remembered one saying that we were living in our temporary home.
Sadly, a lot of Christians do have this view. I remember a few months ago, my folks kept playing a song about the Hills of Home Calling Me. I never liked hearing it. It always treats this world as just a place we’re at now, but thank goodness that another world is calling me away from here.
Unfortunately for this view, I don’t see it in Scripture. Genesis starts off with God telling us to fill the Earth and subdue it. Is there any reason to think that His plan has changed? If this world is what God made for us to live in and for Him to dwell with us in and that it is to be a temple, why think He is undoing all of that? Did the devil have a victory in making the whole world irredeemable?
It is true that in many places such as 2 Peter 3 and Revelation, we see images of the destruction of Earth, but these I would contend hold to more of a purification. If we were to live in a Heaven forever, for instance, I have to ask why is there a new Earth created? Does the old Earth pass away? Yes, but so does our old self pass away when we become Christians and none of us died and rose again when we became Christians. At least, not literally.
The danger in this is that it moves us more towards a Gnostic form of Christianity where the material world is something bad and thus we have to escape it to go to a spiritual dimension of sorts. Now I seriously doubt anyone singing these kinds of songs are likely thinking that all material things are bad, but this is a bent that too many Christians sadly have. This world is treated as a plan gone wrong and now we have to move on to plan B.
I am not an environmentalist, but I don’t believe in abusing our Earth either and this kind of thinking can lead to that. Who cares what we do to the environment? We aren’t going to be here. For a good conservative look at taking care of the environment, I recommend the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.
God meant to dwell on this world forever with us. He wants to redeem all of creation and not ditch it forever. Redemption begins with us and as Romans 8 says, the creation is eagerly awaiting its own turn. Whatever you might think is waiting for us that God has prepared in eternity, we can be assured that what is really waiting for us is actually much better.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)