Have you met many Christians who mistakenly believe they have “arrived” in this life? When they complete the education that most only dream about getting? When they get the job promotion and that corner office that goes with it? When that special someone says “Yes” to their marriage proposal? When they are approved for the mortgage on a bigger and better home? When the car they drive drives their friends mad with envy? When the social circle they run in runs the city they live in? When the ministry they lead leads the other ministries in the number of people showing up? Yet on this side of the grave, the one thing the Christian never does is arrive. To be sure, there is only one place where we will finally arrive, and it won’t happen until we get to the other side of the grave, when we will forever be in the unveiled presence of Jesus. Is this the arrival you are anticipating? Is this the arrival you are hoping for . . . groaning for?
When we live in a state of anticipating our arrival on the other side of the grave, we are living in the light of eternity. Everything we do is measured against what will bring the most value and glory to the Kingdom of God, as we live like pilgrims who are just passing through on our way to the celestial city. As the apostle Paul says to the Philippians, our citizenship is in heaven, not here on earth. So as we live in anticipation of that eternal glory, we pour ourselves out for the expansion of God’s big kingdom here and now, not the expansion of our own little kingdom.
The devil would like nothing more than to convince you that you have indeed arrived. He has done it to countless individuals in the church. They profess Jesus as Lord, and yet put the stuff of this life on the throne of their lives. The devil even attempted to do the very same thing to Jesus! Our Lord’s response gives us the model for resisting the things of this world that would convince us we have arrived.
The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (Matthew 4:8-11)
The devil tried to get Jesus to think He had arrived, but Jesus would have none of it. He knew what He was here to do and He would not allow anything to get in His way. With every attempt the devil made to get Jesus to think He had arrived, Jesus quoted Scripture. It’s important to understand that Jesus never told us to forsake everything in this life for what is to come in the next. The blessings and pleasure of this life are some of God’s good gifts to us. Education, professions, relationships, houses, and even cars are all good gifts given by our gracious God. However, these good gifts become bad gifts when we make them ultimate gifts. When we think we have arrived because of any good gifts we have been given, we have arrived at the wrong destination.
You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. (1 Corinthians 7:23)
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. (1 Timothy 6:17)
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)
These are just a few of many verses that help the disciple of Christ sharpen his or her focus on what it means to have arrived. Short of Christ Himself, perhaps the most powerful example of a man who had truly arrived at the right destination was Paul, who declared in Philippians 3 that all the accomplishments from his life before Christ—his power, his prestige, his prominence in the community—were no more than rubbish, compared to “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” In the same passage, Paul went to proclaim that he was “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” in order to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
I pray that these verses will serve to encourage you in your journey to the celestial city and your walk with Christ every step of the way, remembering that arrival happens not in this life, but in the next.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!