How much time do you spend thinking about what God has for you in heaven? It is not an idle question. What we think of heaven is critical to living the Christ-life on earth. If we think heaven is a place of endless rest and relaxation, we will be inspired to simply wait for it. We will act like tourists lining up to board the plane to their vacation instead of diligent servants of our King and Father.
We work toward what we pray for. So if we pray as Jesus instructed us to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and think God’s will is for nothing more than our eternal rest and pleasure, we will seek exactly that in the here and now. Perhaps that is one reason why so many of God’s people are not actively working to spread His Kingdom.
But heaven is not an eternal spa day, with angels waiting on our every beck and call. Such a thing might seem very pleasant through the eyes of one who desperately needs a vacation, but it would rapidly become a bore to us, and a chore to angels. Sabbath is desperately needed and critically important. Yet God did not make the week a string of seven Sabbath days, and He did not make us to live in such a mode forever. Nor is it an endless Sunday morning worship service. Worship is infinitely more than singing songs and listening to messages, and far more than a meal and a presentation.
When we pray “your will”, we are praying for what God designs. We understand that it is God’s will for us to worship Him, and to love Him, and to serve Him. We also understand His will is for us to honor one another and to seek to bless one another. We know that it includes righteous behaviour on our part, both when we are with others and when we are by ourselves. That God’s will is manifested by working toward it and seeking to heal, to release, to spread His glory. Further, we know that we don’t always fulfill that will. We stumble and fall. We do what He would want us to do only imperfectly, and with mixed motive. That is not the case in heaven. In heaven, what God wants is realized with urgency, for there His will is uncorrupted by sin and the enemy’s influence.
What Jesus urges us to pray then, is not toward some idealized vacation. But toward greater and greater fulfillment of God’s rule and instruction. Jesus would have us to pray and seek to embody all He would have us to be and do here and now, just as we one day will be and do all He ever designs, perfectly and without sin, and forever. We start with simple obedience (Micah 6:8) and we go on from there in ever more strategic obedience (Matthew 28:19-20).
Jesus modelled that for us. He modelled it in devotion to God and application of His Word. He modelled it in healing people from sickness and in delivering people from spiritual oppression. He modelled it in spreading the Good News that God’s Kingdom of heaven was very near. He modelled it while walking the dusty streets of ancient Israel. While ministering to lepers. He modelled it while living in poverty. He modelled it by ministering across cultures. He modelled it in accepting wrongful arrest, imprisonment and even while being nailed to the cross.
The Christ-life is full of joy and peace and a sweet walk with the Lord. But it is not all fun and games. It constantly pushes us toward God and away from everything that distracts from God. That makes it a challenging adventure of walking in faith, and at times lonely and arduous and even painful. The Christ-follower must know that those seasons are not times of abandonment, but times of growth. Every moment in the obedient disciple’s life is used of God to either grow His Kingdom inside us (by the demolition of stronghold of wickedness in our thinking, or a new lesson of His ways learned, or a new worldview of His Kingdom gained) or to advance His Kingdom beyond us (by the same means, but in others around us). It could be said that until we see the Lord, both we and our world are constantly under renovation. Amen.
Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.Phillips Brooks
What is God doing in your life today? In the lives of those around you today?