I've had heaven on my mind lately, and it's sounding very attractive. One moment of Bible study after another has pointed heavenward.
This is "Conference Week" around our office. Global Outreach's annual missions conference is this weekend, and missionaries have arrived off and on all week.
They were faceless names until their arrival, even though I'd heard stories about them from the other Home Office staff. One after another, they've walked in the building and I've recognized them from their picture. They've recognized me from mine. All the weeks of praying for them have suddenly come together when I've seen their beautiful faces.
We've hugged and exclaimed, "I've heard so much about you." and "I love you already." We've sat and chatted about life and ministry, hopes and dreams. Every time, I've thought, "This is what heaven will be like," and I've longed to enter those beautiful gates.
Today, I read a verse I've read many times before, but it took on a new, and heavenly, meaning.
"Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48
In the preceding verses, Jesus had told His followers to be more than the Pharisees. Be intentional about getting rid of your sin. Don't resist the ones who are evil, but turn the other cheek. Go the extra mile. Give. Love. Even love your enemies. Do what's hard, and do it to honor our Heavenly Father.
In the process, a wonderful thing will happen. We will become "finished", complete, mature.
It's the idea behind "finishing school", in which teenaged girls were (traditionally) taught those things that "finish" their training in preparation for taking their place in society. The rough edges are worn off and they learn to be mature, gracious, kind, equipped for adult womanhood.
When we love as God loves, even loving those who are least lovely, we make a start at being "finished", mature, complete. We begin to be a little more like God.
As I read that verse this morning, I realized that heaven is a place where we are "finished". God loves us all, even at our unlovely worst. Like the missionaries who've arrived this week, He "loves us already". Even when we are unlovely.
Heaven will be filled with that kind of unconditional, agape love.
Of course we'll have arrived in a place where there will be no sin or unloveliness, so, if we want to be "finished" for heaven, we need to get started now. Take a look around. There's plenty of unloveliness into which we can take God's love.
Even though we're not yet perfect, let's act as if we are. Let's love as if we've already arrived at maturity. In the process, we might find that God uses our acts of love to rub off our rough edges and make us more like Him.
Mature. Complete. Perfect. Ready for heaven.
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: The All Important IF