We all die. Sooner or later, the body gives out, and the soul passes into eternity. Only two people have ever avoided death entirely (Enoch and Elijah), and it is highly probable that they are the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation 11. Of course, in the end those two witnesses die too – for even Jesus Himself did not avoid dying. He overcame it in the resurrection, but death itself remains until the very last day.
For this reason some have believed that our present life is of little value. That what really matters is making it to heaven, so that one can do what really matters on that side of eternity. Consequently, although they’ve may have been saved and even though they may live moral and upright lives, they spend little effort on bringing His Kingdom come. Content to know their surety, they assign the work of rescuing the lost to the clergy. Or to the very passionate – those they’ve attributed a ‘gift’ of evangelism and/or mission to.
They have forgotten the very example they cling to. For Christ poured out his life on the earth for the poor, the forgotten, the downcast, the oppressed and the broken. Jesus preached the Good News everywhere He went – always making it a priority. He did so, and even faced the cross, “for the joy that lay before Him.” Further, it was not only joy that was set before Him. Entirely as a result of what He did on earth, “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.”
NT Wright wrote, “The present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die. God will raise it to new life. What you do with your body in the present matters, because God has a great future in store for it. […] What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbour as yourself—all these things will last into God’s future. They are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether (as the hymn so mistakenly puts it, ‘until that day when all the blest to endless rest are called away’). They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.”
So when we pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we must not only be asking Him to bring about His Kingdom, and that His will might be effected on earth – we must be committing ourselves to work to the very same end. For surely this is the abundant life, that God allows us the privilege of working alongside Him, in bringing about His purposes in the here and now! Not only to be a blessing to many now, but so that He might reward His obedient children all the more when His Kingdom is fully here, manifested physically as well as spiritually! Amen.
Though I am always in a haste, I am never in a hurry, because I never undertake more work than I can go through with perfect calmness of spirit.John Wesley
How are you planning on honouring God in what you do today?