Excerpt from Apostolic Foundations by Art Katz
The foundation of the apostolic mindset, however, is a true apprehension of the things that are eternal, not in anticipation of a future enjoyment, but of a present appropriation, and that is what makes the church peculiar. We have no idea how important the subject of eternity is. To lose the meaning of this word is to lose everything, and it will condemn the church to being mundane and ordinary, institutional and mechanical, a weariness of the flesh, instead of a joy and a power. In other words, the absence of eternity in the consciousness of the church disfigures and nullifies it as being church. We are going to have to contend for this reality, because the world is not hospitable to it. Paul not only found this eternal dimension, he also dwelt in it, and yet that did not condemn him to irrelevancy. On the contrary, it made him all the more relevant, and so will it make us also.
We need to adjust our whole mind-set and attitude. We may believe in eternity, but we have agreed with the world that it does not become relevant until after this life. In other words, it becomes applicable when this life has ended. To have this attitude guarantees we will not be found disagreeable or controversial to the world. The world wants to relegate eternity to a future consideration that has no present application. Eternity is, however, not another kind of time frame; it is not merely endless time or a quantitative thing, but profoundly and foremost a qualitative thing. That qualitative thing is available now it is eternity now. When we begin to see all our moments set in the context of eternity, we will bring to those moments an intensity, a care, a solemnity, and a seriousness that we would not otherwise have had. Heaven is reality, and it is coming down to earth. It is that new City whose Founder and Builder is God, and God has called us to the apostolic task of bringing eternity into time.
We have not impressed the world or communicated to it the sense of the urgency of that which lies beyond death. In fact, we cannot begin to do it if we ourselves are not presently in that dimension. We can, therefore, only communicate eternity as a technical and theological truth. We know that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one and the father of lies. Lying is everywhere about us and in the very air that we breathe, and the greatest lie is the renunciation and rejection of eternity. Even the thought of it does not come into the consciousness of men. Men are living their lives in the world as if this life is the total purpose for being, and we have allowed them to get away with it. If we as believers subscribe to eternity by giving assent to the doctrine of eternity, the reality of which comes to us after death, then we have given ourselves over to the lie. Church is church when its very existence, presence and character are a refutation of the lie, because it shows that the issue of eternity and the things that are ultimate and that pertain to God are in fact the true questions of life. Church is church when it lives as if it believes that.
We need to come to the world as people who are presently in that dimension, where the things that are eternal are brought into our daily, mundane and ordinary considerations. When we do, then those things no longer become mundane and ordinary. Everything becomes charged with that which is eternal. When you stand before a people, it is not just a delivery of a message, but an issue of life or death. Things are hanging in the balance that will affect both time and eternity. The consequences, therefore, are momentous. Everything is charged with a meaning beyond that which one can define. Eternity has been brought into the now, and it is the whole dimension in which God Himself dwells. That is why Paul can speak about the eternal weight of glory, because that is where the realm of glory is to be glimpsed and sensed.