@robertkwendt || lead pastor
Where you plan to go impacts how you go there.
My family and I are planning some trips this year. Some are close to home while others are farther away. In each of the situations, our destination impacts what we have to do to prepare to get there. For flights, it means having the right documents, suitcases, strollers, etc. For a car ride, it means finding a way to pack it all into the limited space we have in the car.
Where we are heading in the future impacts how we live today.
It influences the way we spend/save our money. It impacts what we talk about, how we plan our schedules, and makes us think about each and every decision we make today. And this is all just for a short trip or two.
But what if we were to prepare for not just a temporary destination...but for an eternal one? How would that impact our outlook? How would that influence the way we behave today?
Here's why a glimpse into heaven causes us to have to think differently. In fact, it causes us to live globally!
Where we are heading in the future impacts how we live today.
1. in heaven, everyone is represented.
The book of Revelation is such a gift to us. In fact, it even tells us that in the first few verses. "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear" (Revelation 1:3 ESV). It's in this revelation given to John that we get a beautiful picture of what heaven looks like. We're able to see what an eternal future with God looks like. This is a destination that's not limited for a short time, but it's where we have the opportunity to be forever.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” - Revelation 7:9-10
It was revealed to John that there will be a great multitude in heaven. It won't be small. It won't be homogeneous. Instead, it will be full of people from every nation, family, people group, and language.
What an amazing image about who will be present in the throne room of God. It's a picture that's so hard to imagine, yet so enjoyable to think about. Only God could make such a beautiful thing happen. A place where all are represented in unity!
2. all will be represented, but all won't be present.
While all people groups, nations, families, and languages will be represented, not all will be present. There are individuals who will have not lived their life for Jesus. People who chose to serve a different god, laugh at the idea of Jesus, or in one way or another reject that Jesus is the only way to heaven. It is those people who sadly will not be present.
Look at what is said about where this great mass of people came from.
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, 'Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?' I said to him, 'Sir, you know.' And he said to me, 'These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'" Revelation 7:13-14
There is a clear distinction that is made. The ones who are present are the ones who have been made right with God through the sacrifice of Jesus. When asked about where Jesus was going and how people could follow him, he said simply this...
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me." John 14:6 ESV
All throughout the Bible, it's made clear that eternal life in heaven is only for those who profess Jesus as Lord. For those who don't, there is not a place there for them. It's that simple.
While this dividing line is tough to fathom, it's also full of so much hope. There is a way into heaven. The way isn't even a reflection of what we do, but rather what we believe.
To get into heaven, we do not have to be "good enough." No. We simply have to have faith in Jesus. This faith changes both our eternal destination and also how we live here and now.
3. we have to share the news with everyone.
If all are to be represented in heaven, then all must hear the good news that Jesus lived, died, rose from the grave, and conquered death once and for all. He took our mistakes, shortcomings, and failures away. He made us right with God.
When I found out that I was having another child I was so eager to share the news. My wife and I agreed to not tell anyone, but I just could not keep it in. So I told my hair stylist.
The news about Jesus is even greater than finding out about having a baby. It's life changing. It's eternity changing. There is so much hope and excitement in the news that we can't hold it in. It has to be shared.
This news is to be shared with all people.
In preparing his followers, Jesus commanded them to "make disciples of all nations." This command found in Matthew 28 is an order, not to simply make disciples in physical nations with borders, but rather to make disciples (followers of Jesus) of all people groups. This is a bold challenge, but one we must take seriously.
4. if heaven has all people groups, then we are to go to all people groups.
America is one nation with 488 people groups. India is one nation with 2,560 people groups.*
A people group can be best considered as members who have a lot in common. This may be distinguished as tribes—or, backgrounds that are very close with one another. I often think about how, when immigrants come to America, they often settle with people similar to them (language, nationality, etc.). While they become an "American," they also stick with their own people group.
Globally, there are 10,212 unique people groups.* Just imagine that. In heaven, the amount of people will be so vast that no one can count. And all these people groups will have representation.
Our vision of heaven impacts our mission on earth.
As we glimpse into heaven, we have to then be motivated to be on mission on earth. Instead of sticking with just our own people group, Jesus challenges us to go and make disciples of people groups other than our own. This means shifting from a local mindset to a global one.
In order to do this though, you don't need to travel across an ocean. Instead, it may mean a trip across the hall, street, or to the cubical next to you. The people groups are there. The question becomes—are we interacting with them? If we aren't, our mission tells us that we should be.
You don't need to travel across an ocean. Instead, It may mean a trip across the hall, street, or to the cubical next to you.