"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this." C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.
I do not know about you, but I often struggle with focusing on the eternal. I get to caught up in the world and what is going on around me. I have been thinking today about how little I do has eternal consequences. In some sense, everything I do has eternal consequences, but little of what I actually do will "stand the test of time." For example, if my mind was focused on the next world, would I watch as much TV as I do? Would I care that the Dodgers lost last night? Would I care about what I am going to have for dinner tonight? Stop and think about all you have done today. How much of it has an "eternal dimension" to it?
What is it about the next world that we can focus on?:
Our Father is in heaven (Matthew 6:9); our Savior is in heaven (Hebrews 9:24); our home is in heaven (John 14:2-4); our name is in heaven (Luke 10:20); our life is in heaven (Colossians 3:1-3); our heart is in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21); our inheritance is in heaven (I Peter 1:3-5); and our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). If you stop and think about it, as Christians, everything that gives us our identity is not of this world.
Please understand, I am not saying that all of us need to be involved in "ministry" all the time; rather, we need to learn how do our everyday lives with the eternal in mind. When we do, it makes it much easier to love the person who is unlovely; makes it easier to be patient with the person who does not listen; makes us less anxious about things that trouble non-believers. The emphasis on the next world, frees me from the burdens, expectations, and labels of this world. As we learn to keep our eyes focused on the next world, it enables us to effectively be the hands and feet of Christ in this world.