Daily Readings Oct. 3, 2015:
As Christians we are called to a great many things. We are called to be missionaries of mercy and workers of charity. We are also called to be advocates of truth and supporters of justice. We are to be deeply contemplative and tirelessly active. The call to live the Christian life is difficult and oftentimes loaded with paradox and I think those two realities can weigh us down if we fail to live with an eternal context. We act, speak, pray, and rest with one eye on eternity. This is what Jesus sets up for us today in the words, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” This eternal context doesn’t make the Christian life easy, but I think it helps make it feasible. To help with that feasibility I want to offer three quick snippets of advice.
The first is that eternity is a communal affair because we worship a God of eternal communion. We do not hope for an eternity that is my everlasting one-on-one time with Jesus. We believe in an eternity that is made up of the whole family, even the ones we might not like. We live lives of outreach to others now, because if I hope to spend eternity with them, I better learn to love them now.
The second aspect to consider is that eternity is the hope for everyone. This is not a statement on the quest list for heaven, but it puts my earthly ministry into perspective. I need to seek to make the grace of God as accessible as possible to everyone I meet. My eternal perspective doesn’t make my life competitive, but cooperative. In other words, my confidence in the Lord’s salvation does not rest on someone else’s damnation, but on the Lord’s faithfulness, a faithfulness that we all have access to.
Finally, the great many things that we are called to do are not some sort of spiritual commission. I can’t sell a few more people the Gospel to get a better payout in heaven. When we view it that way we get it backwards. Instead, when I see the gift of eternal life for what it is, I have no other response, but to offer myself as gift. As I enter this exchange, started by the Lord, I am not a salesman building his Christmas bonus but more like a snowball being rolled around, growing in size as the Lord moves me where he wills. Charity with an eye on eternity does not result in reward seeking, but results in trust and surrender.
As disciples we see this life as part of the journey and yet we see the next life as the destination. It is this balance that Jesus celebrates in today’s passage, because he not only came to show us how to live, but also to lead us into the fullness of life; a fullness we will only know in eternity.