When we begin a new job or enter college, or for many other new beginnings, we are required to attend an “orientation.” Many people hate orientation because they see it as boring and a waste of time. Others look forward to it, eagerly listening to what they need to know to be successful and to avoid mishaps. The truth is that those who see orientation as boring and a waste of time probably do so because they believe they already know all they need to know without it. It has been my experience that we have the same problem when it comes to preparing for our life in heaven. While many people eagerly seek the knowledge and preparation found in Scripture, others think they know all they need to know and see Bible study as unnecessary, boring and a waste of their time. Nothing could be further from the truth. From beginning to end the Bible teaches us that our orientation is critical—a matter of life and death.
The first book of the Bible is Genesis, which literally means “beginnings.” In the very first chapter of the Bible, describing the first day of creation, God says: “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night” (1:3-5a). What is interesting is that God doesn’t create the sun, moon and stars until the fourth day to provide light for the world and separate the day from the night. The truth be known, the meaning of the “light” and “darkness” that are separated on the first day involves much more than physical light and darkness. In John 8:12, Jesus says to us, “I am the Light of the world” and in Matthew 5:14 He instructs us to be the “light of the world.” Obviously, Jesus is not talking about physical light, but the light of God’s presence manifest in truth, faith and witness. Another interesting fact is that the meaning of “darkness” and “night” found in Genesis 1:4-5, actually infers a “twisting away from the light” or an absence of the “Light.” Now, we begin to understand that the knowledge of God’s Truth that is born in us through His Word, the Bible, illuminates our lives and lights the way to heaven. If we think we know it all and fail to seek God’s Truth through God’s Word, we wander and stumble in the “darkness” of this world and fail to find the Way which is through Jesus Christ. We may think we know what we need, but we deceive ourselves or have been deceived by the powers of darkness that would have us be oriented “inward” to self rather than “outward” to God.
Orientation is everything when it comes to faith and salvation. The Bible teaches us that when we are self-oriented, thinking we know what’s best and prioritizing our needs above the needs of others, we are lost in darkness and doomed for destruction. But the Bible reassures those who are God-oriented and self-sacrificing, trusting in God’s revelation and putting the needs of others first, that they will be saved and receive a heavenly reward. They know that to serve Christ is to serve others, remembering Jesus’ words, saying, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me” (Matthew 25:40).
Jesus’ final words found in Revelation, the last book of the Bible, state: “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murders, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood [darkness]” (Revelation 22:12-15).
All of us need to regularly reflect on our orientation. Is the orientation of our lives God seeking or self-serving? Are we living by our truth or God’s Truth as revealed in Scripture? The Bible is said to be our “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” We all need to make sure we are properly oriented for eternity. God will help us by lighting the way.
Your fellow servant in Christ,