Are You Just Waiting For the Celestial Express?
“Aren’t we just killing time here on earth as we wait for the Celestial Express to whisk us out of this temporal realm? Isn’t heaven where the real action happens?” Perhaps you’ve personally considered this view or have heard others ask similar questions.
As believers, we may have been taught that life on earth is merely a prelude to the “real” goal–our eternal life in Heaven. After all, Scripture itself states,
All these died in faith…and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Certainly, it’s appropriate to long for our eternal reward—God’s promise of eternal life with Him. Even so, God’s full intention for us includes exponentially more. So much more than an eternal “someday,” God intends His children to live as fellow heirs with Jesus while here on earth. We are to enjoy His eternal quality of abundant living here and now.
More than an eternal “someday,” God intends us to enjoy abundant living now!
Since God sent Jesus into our world to illustrate “the way,” as our example, let’s examine Jesus’ earthly life. His actions and words proclaimed that everything God has said to mankind over the centuries is intended to teach us to love God as Father, and to treat one another lovingly.
And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” (Matthew 22:37-39).
Jesus’ words in these verses are the crux of God’s abundant relational intention. We experience God’s eternal quality of abundant life through our intimate relationship with Him and godly relationships with fellow travelers on life’s journey.
Experiencing God’s Full Intention
Loving others with a godly respect also enriches our lives. This is more than loving others because we are “supposed to.” God’s relational design supplies richer purpose and deeper fulfillment for our life on earth. God planned this flow of receiving and sharing love to be our primary life focus.
First and foremost, we relate to God as our heavenly Father, and receive His unconditional love. Then, we can begin to accurately relate to others, by sharing love as He loves us. God’s way of relating provides supreme fulfillment. I like to describe God’s loving intention in these ways:
• Intimate fellowship with God through His enlightening Presence.
• More than a “someday” experience, we delight daily in expressions of God’s love.
• Living in God’s eternal quality of life, we are equipped to reflect His love onto others.
• As we become more like Him, we reap the benefits of a life in this world full of His love.
This is abundant living to the fullest! Like Moses, we can experience interactive fellowship with God beyond the miracles, even beyond serving and working for Him. Jesus entered our world and provided the way for us to experience this abundance by becoming joint heirs with Him.
Joint Heirs with Jesus
All who are responsive to Father’s loving guidance are joint heirs with Jesus. What a privilege! God wants all of His offspring to become receptive “children” who receive His guiding light.
As God shines into our hearts, we progressively develop into more mature expressions of Him. By responding as Jesus did—as a son, God disciples us into His character, attitude, and personality. We learn to be His reflective resemblances in ways similar to Christ Jesus.
“For God…is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6-7).
It is God’s will that we ascend, in this world, into greater heights as children of our Almighty Father. Incredible as it may seem, we can also be illustrations of His light by reflectively resembling Him.
It is God’s will that we ascend, in this world, into greater heights as responsive children.
Seeing and Reflecting God’s Heart
When we approach God and respond to Him as loving children, we are able to see His heart more clearly and reflect it more fully. This is how we mature into His full intention. Even though He knows how beneficial this is for us, God does not force us to do it. He gives us a “free will” so we can choose when and how we respond.
Rather than a dictator who demands our obedience, God “is” love. Yes, love is more than what God does, love is who He is. God’s love directs every expression of His heart. God intends His love to permeate every moment of life from eternity to eternity, and everything in between.
Scripture assures us that God’s perfect life design is based on steadfast love, always. And as we gain deeper understanding of God’s heart, we see that the foundational basis of all lasting relationships is love. Furthermore, through our intimacy with God, we share son-ship with Jesus, and are empowered to demonstrate God’s sacrificial love.
Actively Reflecting God’s Love
How then, as we increasingly gain God’s heart perspective, do we actively reflect His love? We do so in times when we find ourselves approaching life differently than those with whom we interact. God designed us with differences that He views as valuable variables. Our differences shouldn’t surprise us; and yet, they often trip us up.
To actively and accurately reflect God’s love, I’m suggesting we apply the following principles. I believe they maximize our ability to lovingly relate as God intends. We reap the rewards of God’s full intention while also fulfilling His insightful instruction. Everyone mutually benefits!
1. Make Relationships a Priority. We must consciously choose to do this. Relationship requires a commitment to walk with another despite obvious or hidden differences. Healthy relationships are developed and then maintained when we give more importance to one another, sharing insights and experiences rather than simply declaring what we may know or believe.
2. Discuss Rather Than Argue. Discussion is a give and take process. Healthy relationships are open to receive and to contribute. Rather than argue over differences, we want to share thoughts and feelings, not find out “who is right” but rather “what is right” for each one in the relationship. Realize every person’s situation is different.
3. Stay Soft and Flexible. Be open to new and fresh insights. Healthy relationships bring balance to our individuality. Balance is a value that is higher than either side of an issue; it is a slightly flexible position between differences. Always consider each member in a relationship has value to contribute.
4. Live with Godly Purpose. Godly love keeps us reaching out and caring for the well-being of one another. Remember, we are important but not more important than others. Be a loving person instead of a hateful one. Look for and focus on the valuable aspects that can contribute to each person in the relationship.
God’s truth is not stationary; rather, truth is a living and relational reality!
These principles are taken from “10 Secrets to Secure Healthy Relationships,” – exclusive insights provided as a free resource to those who sign up for “Living Relationally,” our bi-monthly email notice of blog articles (and nothing more). You can sign up here on our blog page. Please share with your friends and family so they can sign up too.
Our heavenly Father equips us to know His heart. When we partake of God’s fellowship in the culture of Christ (God among us), we are more than inheritors of “someday.” We can delight daily in the fullness of God’s love and respond accordingly! Are you experiencing God’s “exponentially more” through daily fellowship with His enlightening Presence?
Here’s a challenge: Be on the lookout for those around you who could use a touch from God’s heart. Choose to be an illustration of His life-encouraging light to them. Then, let us know in the comments how you also reaped the benefits of His love by being His reflective resemblance. We look forward to hearing from you!
Keith Carroll, Relational Gospel Founder
More resources about our relational God:
Created to Relate, Insights Into Our Design and Purpose, and The Christ Culture, A Way of Life Like No Other are available on this site for your devotional read, and for purchase in printed or eBooks on this site.
Many folks are finding my books to be insightful and stimulating, excellent for personal understanding and to share in small groups. We provide a Leader’s Guide to facilitate discussions.
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