Saturday, November 29, 2014

Heavenly Surprise

John answered and said, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us." But Jesus said to him, "Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you." (Luke 9:49-50 NASB)

In this passage, the disciples had seen a man casting out demons in the name of Jesus. He clearly had both power and authority to do this, and was succeeding in an area where the disciples of Jesus had recently failed. Because he was not "in the group", the disciples had tried to stop him. The problem was not that this man had not had a life-changing encounter with Christ. It was not that he was doing anything to hinder the Kingdom of God. He was actually serving Jesus faithfully. It was simply a matter of not being in the right group (their group). 
Jesus was very clear. "Do not hinder him." 

We discussed previously that there would be no denominations in heaven. This sectarianism so common today is not recommended nor encouraged in Scripture. Even the Jewish law had a provision for outsiders who embraced the faith. There will be no denominations in heaven.  

Several people commented yesterday that there will be no race in heaven. It might be better said that there will be no race issues in heaven. We will "know as we are known", which indicates that we will recognize people. I'm not sure how our bodies will look, but we will not have the frail bodies we have now. While we are on the topic, it's worth taking a closer look. 

When we enter heaven, we will not take even a morsel of "stuff" with us. All our material possessions will be left behind. Heaven does not have rich and poor sections. We all enter empty handed. 

This may surprise you, but we are not heading to an American heaven. It will not look like an American subdivision. We will not be dressed in American clothes. 

John, writing in The Revelation, described a huge crowd of people from "every nation, tribe, people, and tongue". They were all dressed in white robes, all holding palm branches, and all singing praises to God. (Rev 7:9) Did you notice that everyone is wearing the same outfit? The only designer clothes we will have are those designed by God Himself, and everyone gets them. There are no secondhand or cast off robes in heaven. We all get the same. 

This may surprise you, but any "crown" we receive for good deeds will not be staying on our heads. Revelation 4:10 clearly describes the 24 elders casting their crowns before the throne of God. We can expect that our crowns will go there too, and so they should. 

There is another little point that may surprise you. We are all together. Did you recognize that the huge crowd is made up of everyone from every country? We will all be mixed right in. The Africans, Mexicans, Americans, French, Spanish and every other nationality will be all mixed up together. I was hoping I could be in the African section because of the freedom in their worship, but it turns out that we will all worship freely there. 

I don't know if you noticed the palm branches. It turns out that worship in heaven is not much like the worship in most of the churches I've attended. We will be standing, holding Palm branches, waving them and singing. Our arms will definitely be raised. Just saying. It's impossible to wave a palm branch with your hands in your lap, so we might as well loosen up in worship this side of eternity. 

We all have the same clothes. We all put our crowns before the throne of God. We will all be singing praises to God in one big group, all nations and races together. We will all be standing and waving palm branches as we sing. With enthusiasm. 

Our churches were not meant to exclude anyone. They were never intended to be all one color or socioeconomic class. Our churches should look as much like heaven as we can make them. Multicolored, multicultural, enthusiastic, and free. Why aren't they? You know the answer to that question and you certainly don't need me to tell you. We are the problem. We are not heaven-hearted, but we are supposed to be. Imagine for a moment what our churches would be like if we relinquished our prejudices and inhibitions and allowed God to give us a heaven-heart, one that embraces all people and loves freely. Before long, our churches could become little diorama displays of heaven itself! What fun that would be! 

It was Jesus' prayer that we would be one body, unified and working together. Let's make sure we are. 

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