The Best of Both Worlds
A Sunday school teacher told his class about the story of Lazarus and the rich man. He highlighted the plight of Lazarus and the blatant neglect of the rich man. One was privileged in this world and the other found peace in the hereafter. After the teacher had shared these truths, he posed this question to his class: "Now, which would you rather be, the rich man or Lazarus?" One young man raised his hand and replied: "I'd like to be the rich man while I'm living and Lazarus when I die."

I suspect that many would answer likewise.

Some think having the best of both worlds is impossible; it's not, but it takes a proper understanding of what the best is in both worlds to achieve such. Biblically speaking, it should be obvious that the best in the world to come would be a home in heaven. But, what about here on Earth? What is the best life in this present world?

Consider what our Lord said in Mark 10:29,30, for it is certainly pertinent to this question - "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time--houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions--and in the age to come, eternal life."

Jesus stated that disciples who live the life of self-denial for Him on this earth will be blessed abundantly in both worlds. Our Lord believed and taught that the best life in the present age is one where a person's dedication to the kingdom of God is supreme (cf. Matt. 6:33; 10:37).

Jesus promised that His genuine followers would be blessed a hundredfold in this life. Such is hard for many to believe, though there is no good reason to doubt it. This is not an assurance or guarantee of physical wealth or even manifold physical blessings. Rather, this is a conditional promise. When we make tremendous sacrifices for God (the condition), He will fill that void with greater blessings both temporal and eternal (the promise). The return, of course, will not be in like-kind (e.g., houses for a house, fathers for a father, etc.), but spiritual relationships and blessings will compensate abundantly for whatever has been given up physically (cf. Matt. 12:49). These joys, Jesus affirmed, will be mingled with persecution which will enable patience to be produced through the testing of our faith (cf. James 1:2-4).

Earlier in this context in Mark 10, Jesus had spoken with the rich young ruler. Unfortunately, this potential disciple, though he was close to the kingdom of God in many ways, was attached to his money and possessions. If the rich young ruler had sold all and given to the poor--as Jesus had instructed--he would have been filled up and overflowing with far greater blessings (e.g., hope, joy, peace, salvation, etc.). Sadly, his love of his wealth blinded him to this truth; many today are just as blind.

Many are deceived into thinking that the best life here on Earth is somehow related to money, power, education, pleasure, etc. The best life in this world has nothing to do with any of those things. You must come to believe that and live your life accordingly if you are entertaining the hope of a heavenly home!

Friends, we must decide which kingdom we will labor in because God has not granted us the option of serving both kingdoms simultaneously. Commitment involves choosing to be faithful to one while forsaking the other. I entreat you to live as a faithful Christian now and you will enjoy the best life that Earth has to offer. Of course, even better is the realization that living such a life in the present age will lead to eternal glory with the Lord!