CHRISTMAS: On Earth As It Is in Heaven

Heaven-sun rays

Your kingdom come.

Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10)

 

When Jesus came to Earth as a babe in a manger, he brought with him a kingdom.

During his public ministry, Jesus taught more about his kingdom than he did anything else. Yes, he came to make it possible for us to be forgiven and go to heaven, instead of hell, when we die. But that was just the beginning of his purpose for mankind. The forgiveness and reconciliation he won for us is the doorway into his kingdom.

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Colossians 1:13).

What is this kingdom Christians ask for every time they recite the Lord’s Prayer? It is a heavenly realm that now exists on Earth–a realm people enter when they believe on Christ–a realm in which God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

That raises another question: what is his will? Jesus demonstrated the will of God everywhere he went. He healed all the sick who were brought to him. He stopped storms from terrifying his disciples or keeping them from arriving at their destination. He reversed untimely deaths.

His every action showed that it was his will that people live long, healthy lives in a world that is safe for humans. If, as some say, it is not always God’s will to heal people, then Jesus went around opposing God’s will in a big way–because he healed all who came to him.

So if it is God’s will for us to live thoroughly blessed lives, why is there still so much evil and oppression in the world–even for believers?

In one of his parables, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to yeast which is mixed into dough. It causes the dough to expand–and expand and expand. Likewise, the blessed realities of life under Jesus’ benevolent rule gradually take over in those who pray, “Your kingdom come.” That is, if they understand and mean what they’re saying. And if they love and cooperate with the King.

If they do, then the will of God–for everything to be healthy and good–will be done in their corner of the earth, as it is in heaven.

CHRISTMAS: Glitter and Feed Troughs and a GIVEAWAY

MangerWhen I visited Israel in June, I was disappointed to find that most of the sites I really wanted to see were covered up by a church. Where was the cave-stable where Jesus supposedly was born? Somewhere under the floor of the Church of the Nativity—only a bit of the rock visible through an ornate peep-hole in the floor. Then there was the Church of the Multiplication, built around a mound of rock where Jesus probably laid the loaves and fishes before multiplying them. There was a Church of the Sepulchre, a Chapel of the Ascension . . . you get the picture.

I got a grip on my irritation by considering that the millions of pilgrims and tourists flocking these holy places would probably have worn them down by now, if they had not been protected by buildings.

Then my fellow tour group members, Agnes and Cienne, gave me a new perspective. These two sisters (both in their 80’s, I understand) were Catholic women, originally from Haiti. Whenever we walked by a church, our two Haitian/American friends went AWOL. They could be found inside, in sincere adoration. Guess the ornate woodwork and stained glass weren’t meant to hide, but to celebrate, the glory Jesus had brought to that ordinary place.

But I still wish I could see the rough cave where Jesus was born and a manger (feed-trough) like the one that became his cradle. Come to think of it, I did once–kind of. It happened when my son was born right before Christmas. The Nativity meant so much to me that year as I marveled that my newborn babe would someday be . . . what? Something amazing, no doubt.

I read and re-read the Christmas story in Luke and Matthew. Each time, I captured some of the awe and hope of that birth that was even more momentous than the one I was experiencing. That December the usual presents and decorations and holiday meals brought me special satisfaction because my heart knew what we were celebrating.

Every year, millions of us look to the glitter and excitement of the season to bring us joy. It’s like trying to be as happy as everyone else at a victory celebration . . . even though we didn’t watched the game.

This Christmas, how about peeling back the layers of holiday traditions and getting a heart-full of the Babe in the manger? Let the radiance of heaven-come-to-earth shine in your heart. That’s what the glitter of the season points to.

G I V E A W A Y

Please share your experiences and thoughts about a meaningful Christmas. If you do that today, you will be entered in a drawing for a chance to receive an autographed copy of Friend of Angels. The winner will be announced TOMORROW (December 20). If you win, you may receive it after Christmas–to extend your celebration by reading about what probably happened after Jesus’ birth. (If you prefer to buy one now to give as a gift, please follow this link.)