If the Jesus story is encouraging to us, think about what it did for the people whose lives were intertwined with his. "Jesus was radically reconfigured and redefined by resurrection," said Eugene Peterson. “And now they [the disciples] were being just as radically reconfigured and redefined by resurrection."
Now they knew for sure that God was fulfilling his promise of heaven—and that certain knowledge revolutionized their lives in this world. Their mission, their attitudes, their relationships, and their priorities were all turned upside down and inside out.
What about you and me? How can our lives change today in light of heaven? Well, if the Jesus story is what leads us to our heavenly home, shouldn’t we delve deeper into his teachings—and commit to applying his wisdom to our everyday lives?
Knowing that we will someday inherit the riches of heaven, shouldn’t we stop clinging to the earthly possessions that take our attention away from what’s really important? Anticipating a paradise of eternal pleasures, shouldn’t we stop our mindless pursuit of substitute indulgences that only bring fleeting enjoyment and leave lasting regret?
In the new heaven and the new earth, everything will be made right, so shouldn’t we start setting things right in our own relationships now? The Jesus story culminates in our clemency, so can’t we offer forgiveness to those who have offended us—and shouldn’t we seek forgiveness from those we’ve hurt?
I know how difficult it can be to set things right. A while ago, I knew I should reconcile with someone I had mistreated, but I felt too intimidated and embarrassed to do it. It was going to be hard for me to admit fault, and I was concerned he might lash out at me. I knew I would be acting in accordance with God’s will if I reached out to that friend, because the Bible says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” So I prayed, asking God to give me the courage to follow through.
Did I immediately feel electrified by God’s power? No. I still felt apprehensive and inadequate. Nevertheless, as I walked toward the phone in obedience and forced myself to punch in the man’s number, God gave me strength as strength was needed. And sure enough, as the conversation unfolded, God emboldened and guided me through a very difficult talk—and today I’m fully reconciled with that friend.
Can you take steps toward righting a wrong in your life, with God’s help? Since Jesus’ story is all about reconciliation with God, let’s not wait until heaven to make amends for past transgressions and to repair fractured friendships. I’ve learned that as we walk down the path of Jesus, he will unfailingly give us power along the way.
Brother Andrew, known for smuggling Bibles into closed countries, found this to be true over and over. When he sensed that God was leading him to bring Christian materials into a nation, he took concrete action in obedience, even when the door of entry seemed securely shut at first. Somehow as Brother Andrew approached the border with his books, God would always empower him to fulfill his mission.
“The door may seem closed, but it’s only closed the way a supermarket door is closed,” he said. “It stays shut when you remain at a distance, but as you deliberately move toward it, a magic eye above it sees you coming, and the door opens. God is waiting for us to walk forward in obedience so he can open the door for us to serve him.”