Recently I had to take one of our cars into town for some service on it. Town, for us, because we live so rurally (is that a word?), is about 55 minutes away. When I got to town a friend picked me up at the repair place and we went to get some coffee and a light breakfast before going together to a ministerial meeting.
For getting our coffee and bite to eat I suggested a spot I like where you can get a cup of coffee (and a refill!) and a bagel for only $3, but my friend took us to another, closer place since my suggestion was "on the other side of town" (about 7–8 minutes away) and our ministerial meeting was on the side we were already on. I was totally OK with him picking—this post isn't about his choice!—but I was struck by the matter of perspective both suggestions revealed.
To me, who had just driven 55 minutes into town, the idea of a "mere" 7–8 minutes being far, or out of the way, was not even a thought. But to my friend, who lives in town, "the other side of town" is a distance. I remember this feeling from when I lived on the Monterey Peninsula. Then, to go the 10 minutes from, say, Pacific Grove to Monterey, to run an errand or get a cup of coffee was "a long way" and avoided unless really necessary. Now, however, when we go to the Peninsula to see my folks, running over to Monterey or Carmel from Pacific Grove is nothing—because where we live now even the most basic errands are a minimum of 30 minutes away, and most almost an hour away.
As I reflected on this difference in perspective I thought how it really is a picture of the perspective we must have as Christians to live effectively in this world and not be pulled by this world. If we can't step back from the world and see things from the much bigger perspective of eternity then the things (events, circumstances, physical items, lures, etc.) of this world will seem really big to us. But, if we can step back from our narrow focus of the world around us and see things eternally, from the big picture, I believe we will find the things of the world not seeming so big to us—hence, they will not have the weight of pull on us they might when our life defines the boundary of our perspective.
Just as from my "distant" perspective "the other side of town" seemed like nothing (and from my friend's town perspective, it was too far), if we can see the things around us and that pull at us through eternal eyes I believe we will see them in the proper weight and perspective we are supposed to. Just like Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him (Hebrews 12), we must live in this world constantly aware of our heavenly home, of eternal life, and of the things that carry into eternity and the things that are temporary and rust and are consumed by fire.
The expression is often used of people with eternal perspective that they are so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good, but I don't see that. To me, and I think to the Bible, we won't be of earthly good unless we are heavenly minded because a heavenly, eternal mind is the only thing that can keep us keeping things in their proper weight and perspective. If this world is our biggest reality and hope then is stands to reason that the things and events of this world will be our highest influence and weight. But if eternity is our biggest reality and hope then the things of eternity will have the most influence on us and carry the most weight with us. But, because the lure of the world is so powerful and because we live in the world, having an eternal perspective is not natural. We must cultivate and tend it.