The Anne of Green Gables series has been loved by many over the years and has recently made a comeback through multiple modern TV series based on the books.
In the third book in the classic series, Anne of the Island, by L. M. Montgomery, Anne’s life is rapidly changing. Not only has she finished college, but all her friends seem to be moving away or getting married.
In addition to these unexpected changes, Anne returns home to find an old friend and schoolmate, Ruby, dying from consumption. In talking to Ruby, Anne finds out that her friend is not prepared to live in heaven.
Since Ruby has spent all her time and attention on “earthly” matters, like parties and dresses, the idea of living in heaven is foreign to her. In talking to her old friend, Anne realizes the importance of living for eternity in the present life:
The little things of life, sweet and excellent in their place, must not be the things lived for; the highest must be sought and followed; the life of heaven must be begun here on earth (Watermill Press).
L. M. Montgomery captures this important notion, which is that eternity matters for all people. Considering eternity is important for followers of Christ, as well as for those who are unbelievers because all people will face eternity.
Set Your Mind on Things Above
Key Scripture passages urge believers to stay heavenly-focused. Colossians 3:2 reminds followers of Christ to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (NIV). The Christian focus should be on “things above,” which is referring to heavenly concerns (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Staying focused on eternal matters is compatible with the Christian’s true home and citizenship, which is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). This is in contrast to those who love the world since the things of the world are not from God and will eventually pass away (1 John 2:15-17).
Believers are also encouraged to fix their eyes on Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV). According to this passage, Christ did not stay fixated on the earthly suffering He had to endure on the cross, but rather focused on the “joy set before him.”
Because His mission was to save the lost and He would return to His Father in glory, Jesus willingly gave His life (Matthew 27:50; John 19:30). Like the precious Savior, Christians should focus their eyes on eternity.
Faithful saints of the past reflected Jesus’ eternal mindset, in that they were willing to suffer and endure persecution for the sake of a future — an unseen promise (Hebrews 11:1-13).
As the Book of Hebrews indicates, such people were looking forward to a heavenly home (Hebrews 11:16). Therefore, Christians not only have the unequaled example of Jesus, but also the example of fellow believers maintaining a focus on eternal matters.
The Challenges of Keeping an Eternal Focus
As seen from these key passages, staying heavenly-minded is encouraged and taught in Scripture.
For Christians, living with an eternal mindset is vital not only because doing so is taught in Scripture, but also because it is essential to maintain a proper perspective in a distracting and evil world.
Believers can become easily distracted by the cares and problems of the world. Since Christians are called to be in the world, but not part of it, an eternal focus is essential (John 17:14-18).
Oftentimes, people get wrapped up in their everyday lives. Jobs must be done, families must be fed, and bills must be paid. Although all these things are important, believers must keep an eternal mindset.
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus warns against getting caught up in the cares of the world, comparing such people to the seed that grows but gets choked out by weeds, making it unfruitful and stunted (Matthew 13:7).
Also, Christ told His disciples to not chase after the things that pagans do, such as food and clothing (Matthew 6:31-32). Rather, they should “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33, BSB).
Being heavenly-minded makes a person more fruitful for Christ and provides peace amid the chaos of the world. Those who are focused on eternity are more impactful for Christ than those who get caught up in the things of the world.
In addition to avoiding getting caught up in the cares of the world, believers need to stay focused on eternity because of the rampant evil in the world. Murders, injustice, and immorality are seen and heard of every day.
Because believers are constantly bombarded with the evil messages of the world, as well as persecution for some Christians in certain parts of the world, keeping one’s eyes on the hope of eternity can be encouraging and comforting.
Eternity and Unbelievers
Eternity matters for all people. Considering eternity is not just for believers in Christ. As shown in the example of Anne of the Island, eternity stands before all people, including those who express unbelief.
For unbelievers, they must realize that the present life is not solely about the here and now. People’s lives do not end when they die, for their soul continues living and their body will one day be resurrected (Daniel 12:2; John 5:29). Individuals will continue to exist after death.
Hence, the question for unbelievers is: “Where do I want to spend eternity?” Each person’s answer is directly tied in with their relationship with Jesus Christ.
Sadly, many unbelievers are optimistic that all people go to heaven or at least they will end up there since they are “basically good.”
Although many people have adopted this form of thinking, the Bible states otherwise. Nobody is basically good, because all people have inherited the sin of Adam and choose to sin (Romans 3:23).
As David declared in his psalm, “Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 53:3, NIV). No one deserves to go to heaven because everyone has a sinful nature.
All people are in this predicament, but God has provided a way to be saved. Jesus came to die in place of sinful man and was resurrected, triumphing over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 55-57).
However, God has allowed people to choose whether to believe in Jesus or not. Those who choose to believe in Him experience salvation and are promised eternal life, forever in His presence (John 3:16).
In contrast, those who choose not to believe in Jesus are condemned and will spend their life after death in Hell and forever in the Lake of Fire after the resurrection of the unbelievers (John 3:18; Revelation 20:15).
Every single person alive today will experience death if Jesus does not return presently (Hebrews 9:27-28). People may choose to ignore eternity, but the consequences of doing so are high.
Just as believers are wise to stay heavenly-minded, so also are unbelievers wise to carefully consider their eternal destiny. Jesus offers all people freedom and an everlasting life that will be spent in a wonderful relationship with Him, but a choice must be made to believe in Him.
On the Shores of Eternity
Staying focused on eternity is beneficial for Christians as they seek to serve the Lord and make Him known to others.
The weight of sin and problems in the world may try to distract believers, but intentionally choosing to adopt an eternal mindset will provide encouragement and hope even amid hardship and suffering.
By keeping their eyes on eternity, Christians can make an impact for Jesus on earth as they live for eternity. Unbelievers should also carefully consider their eternal destiny. Everyone will eventually die and stand on the shores of eternity.
Where a person spends eternity is completely up to their own choosing, based on their belief about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Instead of foolishly wasting time living for the fleeting pleasure of the earth, unbelievers should consider the lesson that Anne learned: Eternity awaits all people. An abundant and eternal life is available, but only if faith is placed in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
For further reading:
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/BERKO85
Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.