...will be better than the best that we experience or can imagine in this life.
That's a comforting, empowering thought.
But when I was an atheist, I thought that the Christians' hope of resurrection life with God beyond the grave meant that they were anesthetized while living in this life--disengaged, heedless of the injustices faced by others, fatalistic.
That's exactly what Karl Marx, another atheist and writer of The Communist Manifesto, thought. He famously wrote, "Religion [by which he meant the Christian faith into which he had been baptized and which prevailed in the Europe of his day] is the opiate of the people."
He got it precisely wrong. There undoubtedly are Christians so focused on heaven that the idea of loving God and loving neighbor, the very things the crucified and risen Jesus set us free to do, is far from their minds and agendas. For Christians like these, Jesus is a private fix, a ticket to eternity.
But for those who seek to take Jesus and His preeminence over their whole lives, the certainty of eternity in God's perfect kingdom for all who believe in Christ, is the freedom to live, to love the unlovable, to speak up for the powerless, to pursue the promise of our lives on earth, to share the gifts of God granted to us with others.
God, forgive for failing to live more mindfully of eternity because in doing so, I fail to live fully here. In Jesus' Name. Amen