Once again I refer you to John Eldredge's book, The Journey of Desire and his statement that the reality of heaven should be motivating for us as believers in our day-to-day obedience to the Lord. So he uses three metaphors to describe heaven and make it more real and thus more motivating to us so as to inspire us to live sacrificial lives for our Lord and His people on this side of eternity. 1) The Great Restoration – heals the curse of a fallen creation – the decay and barrenness of "winter" in the natural creation and the decay and demise of our physical bodies – "the outer man" (2 Corinthians 4:16). 2) The Grand Affair or what I call Holy Love with God and people – heals the curse of loneliness and isolation through intimacy with our Lord, the Lover of our souls and intimacy with each other. 3) The Great Adventure – heals the curse of futility and frustration of the "thorns and thistles" in our work with joyful, meaningful, creative work for all eternity. Having studied the first two metaphors, today we will focus on The Great Adventure.
The Great Adventure – "Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working" (John 5:17). God is the ultimate creative artist, builder, poet, designer who loves His work. "God saw all that He had made and it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). And as our Father is so creative so are we as we are created in His image and recreated in Christ for good works, which He prepared for us to do (Genesis 1:26; Ephesians 2:10). And our good works will continue throughout eternity. "Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities"; "and they will reign with Him for ever and ever"; "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple"; (Luke 19:17; See Revelation 5:10; 20:5; 22:5; 7:15) This life is a dress rehearsal for our eternal vocation and the main preparation is our heart not our performance. "Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:15) And we don't have to finish our list of "things to do." Paul said his ambition was to please the Lord and "finishing his race" meant his faithful obedience to the end. He was still writing letters to correct the churches as he died. Without an eternal hope and perspective we will often feel like Job did when he was down: "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope" (Job 7:6). And A. W. Tozer adds his comments on our struggle with the brevity of life: "The days of the years of our lives are few and swifter than a weaver's shuttle. Life is a short and fevered rehearsal for a concert we cannot stay to give. Just when we appear to have attained some proficiency we are forced to lay our instruments down. There is simply not enough time to think, to become, to perform what the constitution of our natures indicates we are capable of. But in God there is life enough for all and time enough to enjoy it."
We don't have to get it all done down here and no one does or even comes close. Christian perfection is not perfect performance but holy desire to please our great God and King like the little drummer boy who said, "I played my best for Him." Our best work is "refrigerator art" (like the painting a five-year-old does for his parents in Sunday school) that God proudly shows the angels because we did it for Him out of love (Colossians 3:24; Heb. 6:10). No more thorns and thistles; in heaven the curse of futility in our work will be completely removed and as Eldredge says, we will finally hit our stride and taste the joy of getting it right.
"Enter into the joy of your Master." (Matthew 25:21) What kind of work will we do in heaven?; the kind that God created us uniquely to do. The kind of work we love and do really well. "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago" (Eph. 2:10 NLT). Remember, God gave Adam and Eve work to do before the Fall. "Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground" (Gen. 1:28). Work is a good thing and like our Father we want to work and create and be pleased with it and say as God says about His work; It is good. If Adam and Eve (mankind) were to reign over the world, maybe we will reign over the vast universe which our Lord created with each of us doing the unique work we enjoy and do so well all to the glory of our God.
"The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it" (the New Jerusalem-Rev. 21:24-26). What can we possibly add to the glory and splendor of the New Jerusalem? It seems this passage refers to the creative works of splendor which glorified humans will do in heaven. Is this the glory that will be revealed in us that Paul speaks of in Romans 8:18?: "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us!"
The transcendent purpose of work – Once a man was out walking and passed by some men who were laying stones. He asked them, "what are you all doing?" "Laying stones", they replied in a ho-hum manner. Yet just a few hundred feet from them was another group of men laying stones for the same project and again he asked, "what are you doing?" They replied with enthusiasm, "building a cathedral to the glory of God!"
"Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, Knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ (the Messiah)." (Col 3:23-24 Amp) "
"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." (Heb. 6:10)
A BIBLICAL VIEW OF WORK
1) god is a worker whom we are to emulate. (Genesis 1:1; 31; 2:2. Psalm 111: 2; John 5:17) Work is not a result of the fall. It is a part of God's created order for humanity BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER THE FALL. (Genesis 2: 5, 15)
2) Our work is a meAns of god's provision but god is the only source. We Trust God to meet our needs according to His promises and give him thanks and praise when he does. God commands us to work and to work with all our heart and rebukes idleness and sloth.
3) Working LONGER HOURS does not necessarily lead to greater prosperity.
4) THERE IS NO INTRINSIC VALUE IN THE PRODUCT OF OUR WORK. GOD IS CONCERNED WITH THE PROCESS OF OUR WORK I.E., OUR ATTITUDES AND OUR FAITHFULNESS TO OPPORTUNITIES PRESENTED TO US BY GOD.
5) SIGNIFICANCE IS NOT FOUND IN THE KIND OF WORK WE DO BUT IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD. (SONS OF GOD VERSUS THE PRESIDENT OF XYZ CORPORATION) WE ARE WARNED AGAINST DERIVING OUR SENSE OF WORTH AND SIGNIFICANCE FROM THE KIND OF WORK WE DO.
6) WE CAN CONTRIBUTE NOTHING TO THE WORK OF GOD BUT GOD GIVES US THE PRIVILEGE TO PARTICIPATE IN IT. GOD IS SELF-SUFFICIENT AND HAS NO NEEDS.
7) WE ARE NO MORE HOLY IN A STATE OF WORK THAN WE ARE IN A STATE OF REST AND HOLY LEISURE. BIBLICAL REST IS NOT SO MUCH THE ABSENCE OF ACTIVITY AS IT IS THE PRESENCE OF GOD.
SUMMARY: Our work embeds us in a natural environment in which we can exhibit eternal values in a temporal arena.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1) What is your main take away from the message and table discussion and how can you apply it to your life this week?
2) This life is a dress rehearsal for our eternal vocation and the main preparation is our heart not our performance. "Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:15)
Do you agree with this statement, why or why not? Do you think your heart attitude toward your work is pleasing to God?
3) If you were given the skills and permission and all the needed resources to do what you have always wanted to do, what would your vocation be? If that never happens here in this life can you imagine doing that in heaven?
4) Read the passage from Colossians above and then answer this question: In your present work are you "laying stones or building a cathedral to the glory of God?" How can our work have transcendent value?