LOOKING FORWARD

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2)

v. 10 “… on earth as it is in heaven.”

 

In verse 9, Jesus commands us to hallow his Father’s name. In verse 10, he calls us to live in the light of his coming kingdom; specifically, by learning to live here as we will live there.

 

There is no human in heaven against his or her will. Everyone there has chosen to live in joyful, reverent obedience to its King. This unconditional surrender is an act of the will, made possible by grace through faith in Christ. In contrast, for the time being, earth is still the battleground for the wills of men and women. So by definition, every heart in heaven has conformed to God’s will. And why would they choose otherwise? For in God’s presence, they are overwhelmed by his glory and omnipotence. His light and love illuminate everything. The apostle John was given this vision of the New Jerusalem:

 

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:22-27)

 

Instead of acting out of fear of punishment, heaven’s citizens are motivated by their love and reverence for God. In heaven, it would be nonsense to think, “I hope God’s not looking” or “What’s the least I can do to get by?” Rather, our hearts will overflow with gratitude and respect. Because we’ll be living in the presence of infinite love, there will be no limit to our love for God and one another. John saw people from every nation continually bringing their worship to God. Our intimacy with God and friendship with one another will only grow throughout eternity.

 

Because nothing can be hidden, there’ll be no pretense or hypocrisy in heaven. There will be nothing to tempt us away from God because we’ll be reveling in his all-sufficiency. The very idea of desiring something other than God’s best will be ludicrous. We won’t look back wistfully or shamefully at our earthly sins; rather we’ll only remember the amazing grace that redeemed us from our disobedience. Likewise, the first time we see those in heaven from whom we were estranged on earth, we’ll immediately embrace them, celebrating Christ’s forgiveness that allowed both of us to enjoy eternity in heaven.

 

Because we’ll need nothing, there’ll be no reason to be greedy or stingy. On the contrary, we’ll use our heavenly treasures to honor God and bless those around us. We’ll want to be as lavish with what we have as God has been with his riches. Every thought, every attitude, every deed, every desire, every joy…every moment will be lived in the light of God’s love.

 

And that’s precisely what it means to live on earth as it is in heaven. Look back at the above description of what it will be like to live in God’s presence. Are we living like this today?

 

God doesn’t want us to wait until we die to start living like citizens of heaven. Rather, he calls and equips us to be present ambassadors of his coming kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:8-20). Even when we find ourselves struggling against a culture that’s opposed to God’s values, we can live as if his kingdom has come, knowing that, one day, it will come:

 

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7)

 

Living today in light of heaven doesn’t come naturally. Because we are sinners, our wills are compromised by relentless self-centeredness. Like David, we must pray, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

 

Even Jesus, who was sinless, understood the necessity of intentionally aligning his will with his Father’s. In Gethsemane, Christ was conflicted as he considered the horrific hours immediately before him. He knew God’s will, but he also knew how difficult it would be. Overwhelmed with sorrow, “…he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:39).

 

When Christ directs us to pray, “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” he’s commanding us to continually seek and obey his Father’s will, understanding that God can redeem even the most heinous circumstances for his glory and our good (Romans 8:28). By honestly examining our motives and subjugating our will to God’s will, we will see our own lives transformed and so become agents of transformation for God’s coming kingdom:

 

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21)