As Jesus provided a model with the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9–13, he said, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” He was reflecting our innate understanding that death is not our grand finale; this earthly church, as wonderful and beautiful as she is, is not the end game—she’s only the beginning.
But the church can come with a lot of pain and a lot of problems. People hurt people, and I wish Christians were immune to that, but we aren’t. So why stick with the church? Why spend time and energy and life pouring into something that comes with pews and pews of baggage? Is it just to worship God? Because we can do that on our own, without the church. Is it just to commune with him? Because thanks to the Holy Spirit, we don’t need the church for that either.
Actually, the church is an outpost of the kingdom, and doing church is an eternity practice. You won’t be secluded when we get to heaven. In fact, you’ll probably have a roommate. So today, we practice loving others, even though it’s hard and our flesh gets in the way. And we practice exalting God, though we’ll be much better at this when we have new bodies and new minds. We practice the fruit of the Spirit, minute-by-minute and day-by-day. We practice church. It’s a discipline that’s preparing us for an eternity.
We better get the business of doing what the church does. But what does that look like? Jeff Walling gives some examples in today’s Kingdom Worker Conversation.
When the earthly church looks like Jesus, when it welcomes everyone and expands to be so much more than a brick and mortar building, it is still only a dim reflection of the kingdom yet to come. When we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we are longing for his heavenly kingdom to reign on earth, for every person to recognize him as Lord and for every idol to be cast out. We know this is coming because Jesus told us he’s preparing a place for us (John 14:1–3).
Because we live in light of this hope, we don’t have to be tired or frustrated or fearful. We just have to be faithful. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” So let’s learn from the past, live in the present, and always be praying for the future kingdom.