O the great joy to go home from a long semester of college! How satisfying it feels!
Yesterday, before I left school, I was constantly singing the song, Home, by Chris Tomlin. It wasn't until this morning on the road that I realized the glorious parallel my mind had subtly drawn.
My joy of coming home for Thanksgiving was but a foretaste of the ever-abundant joy of coming home into the Father's kingdom. O the joy that will never cease to proceed from my lips!
Isn't this a glorious reality? Is this not what we are pressing on for?
But see. The greatest joy of coming back to Michigan isn't my house, or my bed, or my books. No, the greatest joy of coming home is the fellowship of my family and friends. What a shame it would be for me to walk into my house and the first thing that I said to my mother was "My! How I missed this house and my stuff!" What would you think of me? You would think I'm a spoiled brat who takes his mom and family for granted.
But isn't this the way we live?
So often we fill our minds with thoughts about the things of Heaven and don't stop to think about the Person of Heaven. How blatantly rude and rebellious it would be for one to walk into the presence of God and say to Him "My! How I longed for the mansion that you gave me and the stuff that I inherited from you!" Without ever speaking a word of satisfaction and joy about Him. Those words would mock the very purpose that Christ died. For He did not die so that you could only enjoy His stuff. He died so that you could enjoy Him.
Jesus says in the High Priestly prayer in John 17:3, "And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." Eternal life is not just a gift of God but is God's gift whereby you can enjoy Him forever.
What is the point of Heaven without Jesus? Without God? It wouldn't be Heaven. For Heaven is the very presence of God. An eternity without Christ would more appropriately be considered Hell.
And yet, I hear so many believers confess their hope of going to Heaven not for the joy of God, but for the joy of stuff, or relief, or relationship. Idolatry can creep into the heart of believers even in thinking about Heaven. Where is the everlasting joy that will come about in the kingdom? It is only in Jesus. And not only is Jesus the everlasting joy for the life to come, but also for the life right now. Live in light of that reality.
O how I long to see my brother's face again. How I long to hold Jon in my arms. But what true joy would it be if Jesus isn't there? The joy of Jon's presence is but a glimpse and is incomparable to the joy of Jesus' presence. I long so much more to see Jesus' face. How I long to enter into the joy of my Master. How I long to walk on the streets of gold in the presence of my King!
See this, my friend, proper joy in the gifts of life flows from the joy in the Giver of these gifts, the Giver of Life. Brothers and sisters, never separate the gifts from the Giver. For from Him flows every good and perfect gift (Js. 1:17). By the power of Christ, we are enabled to enjoy His good gifts and glorify Him. Live as if the greatest joy is not the gifts but the Giver. Live not in hope just of eternal life but of eternal life with God. Live in this way because God's gifts display the majesty and joy of who He is.
Live, Christian, with a focus on the true joy of Heaven, the greatest joy. The greatest joy of Heaven is the presence of the Triune God and the community that we get to share with Him. We've all sang about that victorious entrance into God's presence. When we all get to heaven, when we all see Jesus, we will sing and shout the victory.