Do you remember the story of the “good” thief on the cross who entered into heaven moments after his conversion? He went instantly from imperfection to perfection. God has done this great work of salvation countless times in the lives of His saints; some folks have used the phrase “deathbed conversion” to describe it. But our loving Lord did not do this for us. Why? Why would God keep us out of His heaven when heaven is what we all long for?
Charles Spurgeon profoundly asked, “Would God keep His children out of paradise a single moment longer than was necessary? Why is the army of the living God still on the battlefield when one charge might give them the victory? Why are His children still wandering hither and thither through a maze, when a solitary word from His lips would bring them into the center of their hopes in heaven?”
The answer to the great preacher’s question is found, of all places, in the oft-repeated refrain from The Blues Brothers movie: “We’re on a mission from God!”
If God did not have work for us to be doing, we would have already entered into our eternal rest alongside the saints who have gone before us. We remain here on earth as ambassadors for Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:20), tasked with expanding the cause of His kingdom. We are here to be both salt and light. Our Lord commands:
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)
Jesus used the metaphors of salt and light to tell us something very important about our mission. Salt in ancient times was used both to enhance flavor and to act as a preservative. As salt, we are to bring Gospel flavor to all we do, as well as preserve the truths of the Gospel in our fallen and broken world. As light, we are to be visible as living epistles of Christ, shining the light of His truth into every dark place, so that God would be glorified.
So don’t fret about the length of time God takes to complete your transformation from imperfection to perfection. There is work to be done! You’re on a mission from God! And the mission He has given you is Kingdom work, in which you live beyond your personal wants, needs, and desires, and live instead for the glory of the King and the good of others . . . all others!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!