Today, let’s consider a couple of New Testament ideas that are sometimes familiar to Christians, but which are not often taken too seriously.
- The Church is a co-HEIR with Jesus Christ of the New Creation. The New Creation is our INHERITANCE in the Lord (Romans 8; Galatians 4; Ephesians 1; Titus 3).
- When God’s Kingdom culminates at Jesus’ return, we’ll be set in place to REIGN over it (2 Timothy 2; Revelation 5 & 22).
Imagine with me for a moment that you have the greatest, most compassionate, most brilliant uncle ever. From the day you were born, he’s been watching over you -– thrilled with every step you’ve taken and with every aspect of your development. Although he’s very modest and humble, this uncle happens to be the owner, president, and CEO of a multibillion-dollar company. And from the day you were born, he’s been grooming you and inviting you into his business that you might share in it with him. You are his heir. You are his apprentice.
How would life be different if it was shaped by such anticipation and knowledge? What hard decisions would you be free to make knowing this was your future? What circumstances would you now be empowered to endure as the heir to your uncle’s kingdom?
What if this scenario were true, except the reality was infinitely bigger? What if the Kingdom encompassed ALL of creation? What if you’d step into this inheritance for ETERNITY?
How would life be different…here? Now?
“…No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in [that city], and his servants will worship him.
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:3-5).
This is the future of the Church. This is the anticipation of all those who live in faithful service of Jesus Christ. Though this scenario seems surreal, it is much easier to grasp with the whole biblical narrative in mind. God created humanity to govern creation on his behalf. Despite the initial catastrophe, Jesus put creation back on course. God’s plans will not be thwarted. Creation will be renewed and restored and God’s people will reign over the New Creation under Jesus Christ.
Following Jesus and submitting to a life of discipleship is not some religious act. It is the only reasonable response once we understand what’s really unfolding around us. If we believe that things are coming to pass as indicated in the scriptures, embracing discipleship wholeheartedly and with great effort only makes sense.
As with everything in life worth doing, however, discipleship comes at a cost. This inheritance comes at a cost. We must lay aside our own ambitions and desires to be adopted into God’s family and to inherit the Kingdom. If we cling to our lives, we’ll lose them; but if we “lay down our lives” to live for Jesus Christ, only then do we truly find them (Mark 8:35). This was the way Jesus modeled and it is the way for his followers.
Jesus’ teaching. With this scenario in mind, many of Jesus’ parables and teachings make more sense. Jesus wasn’t making quaint, moral points. He was conveying a new reality of life because he was becoming King. He used various metaphors to reveal the true context of our lives and the corresponding invitation to take part in what was unfolding in and through him.
Count the cost. Throughout the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) Jesus often reiterated that in order to follow him, people would have to “count the cost.” Christians sometimes interpret these passages as gloomy, depressing demands. They hear the message, “Give up everything you love and hold dear and live a deprived ‘Christian’ life. And when you die you can go to heaven.”
But this is a misinterpretation. To accurately “count the cost”, we must understand both the cost and the reward/benefit. We must know the story. We must know what God is up to. And then we must consider what price we would pay to be part of his eternal kingdom. To be clear, God’s promise is not death and clouds and harps and heavenly choirs. It’s much better than that. It’s far more audacious:
- God’s promise to you is an inheritance in an eternal Kingdom.
- God’s promise to you is immortality.
- God’s promise to you is reigning with Jesus over the New Creation.
This is God’s invitation to you in and through Jesus Christ. So now –-
COUNT THE COST.
What’s this invitation worth to you?
What are you going to live for?
Who will you become in God’s story?
(Excerpt from Reimagining Discipleship)