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.

Nested Worlds

Nested BowlsHave you ever stepped into a foreign embassy? If so, you were in a country-within-a-country. This situation impacted the lives of a family we knew in a Latin American country. As they drove onto the grounds of the Brazilian embassy, seeking political asylum, local guards opened fire, killing the father. The mother and children were arrested. But the embassy stood behind the survivors, because they had been on Brazilian soil. They rescued these family members from the police and conducted them safely out of the country.

The most unique “embassy” on earth is the one Jesus established. He called it the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven. With this kingdom came the customs and power of heaven.

The scriptures I shared in my last post showed Jesus operating as king of this new kingdom—healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, and even commanding a storm to cease. While he was yet on earth, he sent as many as seventy of his followers out to do the same kind of thing. After he ascended into heaven, the apostles and other believers continued to exercise that  authority over natural situations like sickness.

Doesn’t that interfere with natural laws? No, not really. God did not create sickness. He did not create the world to have turbulent weather that harms people and destroys trees and animals. This kind of degeneration set in when mankind turned their backs on God and came under the evil influence of satan. When Christians pray for restoration of this physical world, they are taking seriously a phrase from The Lord’s Prayer: “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

You might say Christians are little islands—or embassies—of the kingdom of God in the midst of the broken world order. A world within a world. And the blessings and protection of that kingdom work, in spite of hostile natural circumstances.  For example, Carol, one of my best friends, saw Matthew 6:33 work for their family.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [food and clothing] will be given to you as well. 

Carol and her husband Bruce agreed with several other couples that their town needed a Christian school. Bruce, being an attorney, devoted himself to the business end of setting up this school. Carol was concerned that their income would drop off as he spent less time at his own work. To her amazement, a steady stream of clients sought Bruce out, without advertising, and that year ended up being one of Bruce’s most prosperous ones.

Corrie and Betsy Ten Boom were arrested during World War II by the Nazis in Amsterdam for hiding Jews in their home. Betsy managed to take with her a bottle of vitamin drops. After they arrived at a concentration camp in Germany, she began to share her drops with ailing women. Corrie begged her to stop giving them out because Betsy needed the drops for her own health. But the drops never ran out! Just as the flour and oil never ran out provision for the widow of Zarepheth.

When my father first arrived in the Dominican Republic as a missionary and went on his first tour of the churches, a believer from a coastal village took him to the scene of a miracle. One Sunday morning, the man told him, members of his church had gathered for worship, when they felt an earthquake. Looking out, they saw that the ocean had receded, leaving a long stretch of bare beach. A tsunami! The water had disappeared into the rift caused by the earthquake. The people knew it would soon surge back toward the land in a huge tidal wave.

The only way to escape the wave was to take a boat across the river and run to higher ground. But as they ran toward the river, the tidal wave charged up the river, taking the boat with it. The Christians fell to their knees and began praying. Only one person—a visitor—kept his eyes open and watched. He saw the water part and thunder past on both sides of the praying people on the beach, leaving them unharmed.

How about you? If you have believed on Jesus as Savior and pledged your allegiance to him as Lord, does it make sense to settle for health issues, economic distress, broken relationships, and out-of-control weather? You can hold out for restoration of every aspect of your life. And while you’re at it, you’ll help raise the world around you back to its original state.

 

Touchdown & Launch—In That Order

You know how it always is—a spaceship launches from Cape Canaveral, orbits the earth for days, then returns to our atmosphere, finally touching down in the ocean. First the launch—then the touchdown.

But it happened in reverse once. Last week I saw where it happened. Perhaps not the exact spot, but where tradition says it occurred. A cave in Bethlehem that stabled a family’s livestock. There the King of the Universe made his landing on earth, unbeknownst to anyone but a few shepherds and wise men.

I also saw the hill from which tradition says he was launched back to heaven, thirty-three years later.

Why the touchdown before the launch? Well, obviously, because Jesus came from outside our world. He became one of us, but he was never just one of us. On more than one occasion, dumbfounded folks asked each other, “Who is this?”  

The Word [of God] became flesh  and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory,  the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace  and truth (John 1:14 NIV).

Making It Personal

  • Who would you say Jesus is?
  • Was there a time when Jesus was real to you? How did that change things?
  • Would you share that story? It’ll help us know him better.