I used to be a dispensational pre-millenialist. I had the whole end-time chart figured out and would explain it to anyone who listened. Then I got tired of all the people saying Jesus was coming back at such-and-such a time and it never would happen. I also learned how to understand scripture, and so that changed how I viewed Revelation as well.
But it meant I had to learn anew how to live in the meantime because I had been so sure it didn’t matter; Jesus was about to come back.
The sermon last week drew from the parable of the bridesmaids in Matthew 25. Jesus’ parable reminds us that we need to be prepared when the bridegroom – Jesus – comes back. Part of that preparation, I believe, is to live life today as we will live life with God and Jesus in the new heavens and new earth. We celebrate today what we have faith in tomorrow. Live in the meantime how you will live in then-time.
Unfortunately instead of preparing for and celebrating the life we will live, we spend more time preparing for the worst which may never happen. We plan for hurricanes and tornados. We plan for death. But how often do we plan for life? How often do we plan for a party? How often do we plan to celebrate the future?
We also tend to celebrate the worries of the moment: the bills, the pain, the worries. So we celebrate by medicating, dulling our senses so that we find ourselves absent from the painful partying that life often forces us into. We avoid the pain of confronting ourselves so that we do not have release the comfortable, even if that hurts us and forces us to get by through medication.
But life in God’s kingdom is both here and there, and so we need to live in the meantime like we will live in the then-time. Celebrate the future today.
What would it look like if we did that?
1. We would celebrate the resurrection by living as if we are already in heaven. We have a false idea of heaven, that it will be full of praying, and meditating, and quiet living. But I’m not convinced of that. The first command given to man by God was to “eat freely.” The last command given by God to mankind was to “drink freely” (Rev. 22:17). Everything between Genesis and the leather cover of your Bible is about a feast, a party, a joyous wedding! It’s not a somber event. It’s festive. We need to live life as a celebration, to enjoy what we have received from God in Jesus.
What would you be doing different if you spent your time celebrating life instead of celebrating death and the painful party life brings us sometimes? Would there be a difference?
2. We would celebrate our role as priests of God by being one now. Our eternity will be filled with service in the Temple of God in the new heavens and new earth. We will carry out priestly duties and responsibilities. Why not do that now? Why not help people come to Jesus and help Jesus come to others?
What would you being doing differently if you lived like a priest today? If you served God fully today? How would your life change?
3. We would celebrate life today free from the burdens of contrived religion by embracing the fullness of a relationship with Jesus. So much of Christianity has placed undue burdens on the backs of its followers. Too often our faithfulness to Jesus is measured by how often we are in the building when something is going on. But eternity will find us simply doing what Jesus tells us to do and that will come out of our relationship with him. And we already know that Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light.
So why haven’t we shed religion’s yoke and traded it in for Jesus’? We were not designed to live that way quite honestly. But we wear it because we want to be appear to be a good Christian in a culturally created Christian world, don’t we?
What would it look like if we started today to travel light with Jesus? What changes? What do we chase? What do we run after? What becomes the measuring stick for our devotion to Jesus? Is it religious practices or simply doing what Jesus told us to do?
These are choices we must make every day. But if we practice these in the meantime, we will recognize the kingdom in the now and at the same time be preparing for the then.