Quite often religious people are accused of being so heavenly minded, they are no earthly good. The thinking goes that people who look forward to spending eternity in peaceful joy with God in Heaven are too willing to accept unacceptable conditions here and now.
This is exactly what Karl Marx meant when he famously said that religion is the opiate of the masses. The father of atheistic Communism was complaining that people who believe in another world after this world are like drug addicts: dumb and docile and unwilling to fight to make things better. (Of course, what Marx’s philosophy produced during the last hundred years cannot in any way be described using the word “better,” unless you think pervasive poverty, widespread hopelessness, no freedom, and 100 million murder victims are good things.)
Anyway, the truth is much closer to what C.S. Lewis wrote in his terrific little book, “Mere Christianity.” Lewis said, “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….The Apostles themselves, who…[converted]…the Roman Empire…the…Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven.”
In U.S. history, two monumental earthly struggles—the abolition of slavery in the 19th century and the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th century—were led in large measure by clergymen who were motivated by their Christian faith.
Lewis’ summary of this topic is prophetic for our day and age. He wrote, “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this [world].”
Modern Christians, including and especially Catholics in the U.S., have assimilated so successfully into the secular culture, our religious beliefs no longer set us apart from the crowd. How else could it be that a majority of Catholics consistently vote for fanatically pro-abortion politicians? The answer is simple. We no longer think about Heaven. We no longer think about the fact that somebody is going to have to answer someday for all that spilled blood. We shrug at the murder of innocent babies because we either think short-term economic issues are more important, or we think being called a religious fanatic by some has-been atheist celebrity is the worst thing that could ever happen to us.
Boy, talk about having your priorities screwed up.
It’s time we started thinking more about Heaven. After all, that is where we (hopefully) will spend eternity. And the last time I checked, eight-hundred-bazillion-jillion-infinity years in Heaven is a much longer period of time than a mere 60, 80, or even 100 years here on earth.
If we become more “heavenly minded,” we won’t become, as they say, “no earthly good.” If anything, we’ll become much more earthly good, and less likely to accept the unacceptable here in this world. The reason is simple: even though our eventual goal is Heaven, when we remember that God created this world and that He loves each and every person here, we will work even harder for truth and justice.
So, if our minds are more occupied with Heaven, we’ll live our lives focused on the Lord, which makes us more reverent toward His amazing creations here. We’ll be more respectful of nature, and we’ll love and care for other human beings.
When it comes to the correct view on this topic, C.S. Lewis had it right, while Karl Marx was completely wrong. (Lewis tops Marx on a host of other topics, including, of course, whether God exists or not. Sadly, Marx knows the right answer now, but the fire and torment of his eternal dwelling probably do not give him much opportunity to ponder it.)
Anyway, don’t fall for that old bogus line: heavenly-minded people are the ones who make this world bearable. That’s because the object of our devotion, the Lord God, has commanded us to love Him and His amazing creation, including all the people in it.