People are often fascinated with Heaven, wondering how it might look and feel. Whether in near death experiences or in dreams, some even claim to have touched the afterlife.
In a blog post shared earlier this month, Harvest Christian Fellowship Senior Pastor Greg Laurie says "those who think the most about the next life do the most in this one."
"If you really start thinking more about Heaven and seeking Heaven, it will transform you," writes Laurie. "As Warren Wiersbe has said, 'Heaven is not only a destination, it's a motivation.'"
A self-proclaimed "student of Heaven" since the death of his son, Christopher, in 2008, Laurie says, "I often find myself just thinking about Heaven, trying to imagine Heaven, trying to wrap my mind around Heaven."
The pastor, who has written a book about Heaven titled As It Is in Heaven, feels that one's belief in the hereafter should impact how they live on Earth. "Our belief in the afterlife has a lot to say about how we live in the before life, how we live in the here and now. The way we view the by-and-by affects us in the here and now."
Although Laurie says he isn't fond of New Year's resolutions, he does think that the New Year is a good time to reassess one's spiritual life. "It's a good time to look at our lives and ourselves and ask, 'how have I done in this last year? Have I moved forward spiritually? Or, have I actually regressed spiritually? Have I been a heavenly minded person this past year? Do I want to be in the coming year?'"
The pastor admits that when it comes to folks who say they've been to Heaven, he's a bit skeptical. "I don't immediately believe someone when they say they have been to Heaven and back," he writes.
There is an "authoritative source" on Heaven, however, that he can truly trust, and that is Jesus Christ, Laurie explains. He cites John 6:38 (NIV): "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me."
Laurie uses Colossians 3:2 to encourage believers to seek Heaven. "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the Earth." Christians should keep God first in all aspects of their lives, from the way they spend their time, to the friends they choose and the very thoughts they think, Laurie explains.
The pastor says that the afterlife is when one gains real perspective on their Earthly existence. "You will realize what really mattered in life was not what you got but what you gave. What will matter is not your competence but your character. What will matter is not your success but your significance."