When you become a Christian, you’ve put your trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and have accepted Him as Lord of your life. He promises that you will go to heaven when you die. Heaven is a wonderful place where there’s no pain or suffering. So, if you’ve found faith in Jesus the question is: why do you have to stay on earth instead of going straight to heaven?
An important note
If you do not have a personal faith in Jesus, you need to stay on earth because God still gives you the opportunity to repent and believe. There are only two exits from earth: to heaven or to hell. So, when you long to leave earth, you need to be very sure you are destined for heaven because Jesus Christ has saved you.
Do you long to leave earth? If so, why?
As believers, why do we have to live on earth when we’re eager to be in heaven with God? Many Christians never ask this question because they love the earth and mainly want God to help them have a good life here on earth. They are not eager to be with God at all! That is a matter of concern. Anybody with a deep faith in the Lord Jesus will know something of the desire to be with God for all eternity.
The truth is, as human beings, we’re very connected to life here on earth. Most of us only wonder why we have to stay on earth when life gets really challenging and we desire to be in heaven. ‘Why do I need to stay on earth?’ is a question that can arise when your love for God is so deep, you want to be in heaven right away. But most often other aspects play a role as well. Maybe you are being persecuted for your faith. Maybe you are very sick. Maybe you are disappointed in life. Maybe you are in very difficult circumstances and don’t know how to go on.
Of course, we can’t fully understand God’s plan for each person. However, we can certainly say something about why God wants us to be on earth, even when life is challenging.
1. God’s plan is earth, not heaven
Man was created for the earth. Isaiah 45:18 says “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (He established it; He did not create it empty, He formed it to be inhabited!): ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other.’” Man was not created for heaven, but for the earth. So, heaven is not even the final destination for believers. Eternal life will be lived on the new earth, as we can read in Revelations 21. So even though life on earth can be very hard now, we need to know that going to heaven is not our goal. The end goal is that God will be glorified on the new earth, where heaven and earth are one. So, we should not be too eager to leave earth before time.
2. God isn’t finished with you yet
A second reason why God leaves us on earth is that He uses our earthly lives to mold us into the people He wants us to be. We need to grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). You can be sure that the Lord is working that out in your life. That is why we need more time on earth. The hard things in life help us particularly to grow and that means that eternal life will be more glorious because of the hard things we have gone through on earth. That is the apostle Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians 4:17: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
3. You are here for others
It’s not just that you are not ready to leave earth yet; earth also is not ready to allow you to leave. When God places you on earth, He has a role for you to play. You have a family, relatives, friends, a community. In several ways you can be a blessing for them. What that looks like depends on our position and personality. God has placed us in various communities, and we contribute to God’s plan for this earth both by what we do for others and by allowing others to serve us. Everything that we do for others has value. Most valuable of all is to share Christ with others. So, one reason why believers are on earth is to invite others to put their trust in Christ, so that they too will enjoy eternal life on the new earth with him.
You are here for God
We are not just on earth to serve people. We are also on earth to serve God. Praising God is an important responsibility for everybody. Imagine all believers went to heaven to be with God the moment they became believers. Earth would become a spiritually barren place without worship of the living God. So, believers have the responsibility to be the priests of the earth. They worship, pray, and sing praises to their Creator and heavenly Father. For as long as you are on earth, that is one of the reasons for your existence.
Expecting the new earth
As God created us to live on earth, it is normal and even good for us to love the earth and life on earth. There is no guilt in that provided we love God more than we love earthly things. At the same time, we live with the consequences of sin which entered the world. Life on earth is not as God originally designed it to be. Therefore, there is a longing in us for the new earth, where everything will be as God intends. The desires of our hearts will be fulfilled there. Between this life and life on the new earth, believers will be in heaven with God if Jesus does not return first. It is natural for us to start longing for heaven, especially when we notice that our earthly tent, our body, is slowly being destroyed by sickness or old age. It is one way that God uses to prepare us for eternity.
But in the meantime, while still being alive on this earth, we know that this is God’s plan to help us grow spiritually, to bless other people, and to worship Him. All of this will make eternity even greater for us!