I think about heaven a lot. As in daily; sometimes even hour by hour. It's safe to say that it's a life motivator for me. Please believe me, I don't say that pridefully--I think it's a wise investment of anyone's time! After all, it lasts a whole lot longer than this short span I'm in, than this "light momentary affliction," which "is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Plus, I continue to digest this whole concept of an upside-down kingdom: that the first are last, the last are first, the greatest is your servant; this place where we must be like a child to come in, an entity so valuable that it's like a pearl worth selling everything else for. That baffles me, woos me, and requires me to subvert everything I'm surrounded with: Beauty is vain. Fame is nothing. Power requires that I serve. Money is for saving up treasures there. Amazing.
And if I make the ultimate sacrifice here of death--if my family is called to stand in front of our little green trilevel and choose to deny Christ or die--I can tell my children to hold their breath and we'll see each other in Paradise in a few minutes. Huh.
But I realize that for me right now, the line is thin between building up treasures and crowns for God, or to do that for me. John Piper talks extensively about rewards and how God motivates with them. I agree with this. God repeatedly gives us promises, calling us with love toward the right.
But, as I heard so poignantly in a sermon a decade ago, "Heaven is not about the glory of Christians." I find myself sometimes working for heavenly rewards for my own glory, vacillating between the satisfaction of doing the right thing, and pride in the wonderfulness of me! (--aka idolatry. Is there any place in me that sin hasn't infected?! For the love of Mike.) Somehow I want to be motivated by rewards, but realize that how I'm getting those rewards is God's grace. That's why people are casting crowns in heaven.
Maybe it's like a mom helping her child tie his shoe: The mom essentially holds his hands and verbally guides him, but gives him a huge "Good job!" for his perseverance and allowing her to help him learn something.
Obviously I'm still muddling through this. What do you think?