An old deacon of a church I served in the early 1980s was at the bedside of his mother. She was near death and was talking in a whisper.
The son said to his mother, “Mom, speak up a little louder. I can’t hear you.”
She spoke loud enough for him to hear, “I’m not talking to you.”
He knew at that moment that his mother was talking to Jesus. In a few minutes, his mother was in heaven speaking to Jesus face-to-face.
It would be tragic for this deacon’s mother to talk to Jesus one minute and to lose the connection the next.
The joyful truth is that if we are absent from the body, we are at home with the Lord.
— 2 Corinthians 5.6-9 – So we are always confident, even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to him.
At Home with the Lord
When I think about being with the Lord, I often turn to the Book of Revelation.
— Revelation 21.1-4 – Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them and be their God;
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
What is it like to be at home with the Lord? John presents us with three broad themes.
(1) There is no place in the universe more beautiful than being at home with the Lord.
Think of the most beautiful sight you have ever encountered. As beautiful as it is, it is but a hint of the beauty of living at home with the Lord.
(2) Tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain are but a few of the troubles of earth that will not be present when we are at home with the Lord.
In today’s video, I talk about the oppression that people experience throughout the world. All forms of abuse and oppression will be absent in the Lord’s home.
Sickness and sin will also be absent.
(3) The most impressive aspect of heaven is that God is there. In fact, if God is not present then it is not heaven.
God’s presence will be the fragrance and breath of heaven. We will be immersed in the qualities of God: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5.22-23).
Heaven’s Reality – Present Behavior
Because we will spend eternity in the presence of God, “we make it our aim to be pleasing to him” (2 Corinthians 5.9).
Dallas Willard makes an interesting observation about heaven and behavior. He says, “What makes you think you will enjoy heaven if you don’t like being around God in the here-and-now?”
In the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6.10).
Our earthly existence is a time to practice doing God’s will, just as it is done in heaven. If we don’t want to do God’s will now, what makes us think we will want to do it in heaven.
If we need a “push” to get us moving in the direction of doing God’s will on earth, Paul reminds us:
“For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive due recompense for actions done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5.10).
Simply put, our future heavenly home should motivate us to live like the deacon’s mother, who loved Jesus so much that he welcomed her to heaven while she was still on earth.
Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. Rudy has insights that come from a Jewish heritage, years of study, and a love for God.
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