May 15, 2018 • Life for Leaders
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
When my son, Nathan, was four years old, he and I took a walk around a picturesque mountain lake. As we walked, I told Nathan that I used to take walks like this with my own father. At that time, my dad had been dead for about ten years. As if he could read my mind, Nathan asked me, “Daddy, do you miss your daddy sometimes?” “Yes,” I said, “I do. But I’m very glad my daddy is in Heaven with Jesus.” After an extended silence, Nathan finally replied with great earnestness, “Why don’t we get a big, big ladder so you can climb up to Heaven and see your daddy now?” How I wished that were possible! I would have loved to see my dad again and to introduce him to the grandson he never met. Yet I knew that my heavenly reunion with my dad was still a long ways off. I thanked Nathan for his sweet suggestion but explained that we just couldn’t find a ladder big enough to reach Heaven.
For those of us who believe that Heaven is far away, either spatially or temporally, Ephesians 2:6 can be surprising, even unsettling: “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” Did you catch that? God raised us (past tense) with Christ and seated us (past tense) in the heavenly realms with him. How is this possible? We’re still on earth, aren’t we? Are we in Heaven too?
Yes, comes the answer of Ephesians. You are on earth but in Heaven also, in a sense. You have not yet died physically and entered fully into the age to come. But, when you accepted God’s grace and put your faith in Jesus Christ, not only were you made alive with Christ, but, according to today’s text, you were also raised up with him and seated in Heaven with him.
In the next couple of Life for Leaders devotions, I want to consider what this means and what difference it might make in our lives. But, for now, I’d like to leave you wondering. I hope you are wondering in both senses of the word: being curious about what all of this means and being amazed by it as well. Indeed, the fact that we have been raised with Christ and sit with him in Heaven should fill us with wonder. Whatever it means, it is surely wonder-full news!
Something to Think About:
When you think of Heaven, what comes to mind? What ideas? Images? Feelings?
What do you think Paul means when he writes that we have been raised with Christ and are seated in Heaven with him?
In what ways have you experienced a taste of Heaven in your life?
What have been some of the most “heavenly” experiences of your life?
Something to Do:
If you’re verbally inclined, make a list of twenty adjectives that describe Heaven. If you’re visually inclined, draw or paint a picture or find some visual way to represent your view of Heaven. If appropriate, share what you have created with someone.
Gracious God, indeed, I am wondering about what I have just read. How can it be that I have already been raised up with Christ and seated with him in Heaven? I almost always think of these experiences as lying in the future. In what ways have they already happened? Help me to understand.
One thing I do know, Lord. In Heaven, I will enjoy an intimate, immediate relationship with you. Now, though our relationship is often confused by my sin, and though I don’t yet see you face to face, I do have the privilege of knowing you, speaking with you, listening to you, and delighting in your love. Thank you for this marvelous taste of Heaven! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The Kingdom of Heaven Has Come Near (Matthew)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
Powerful words that humble me to embrace our place with, and in, God now, and ultimately, for eternity.