by Brinnae Keathley
I find myself getting slammed by the simplest of truths. I was fortunate to grow up in church, so I naturally adopted the colloquialisms and habits of a “church-goer.” This was a wonderful experience, however, it was easy to miss the power behind the subtleties as one church event spilled into another. There were certain nuances in songs I sang growing up that gave me the idea that this life on Earth was something to be endured until the significant part began in an ethereal Heaven. Maybe this was part of the culprit:
Some glad morning when this life is o'er,
I'll fly away.
To that home on God's celestial shore,
I'll fly away.
I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away.
Just a few more weary days and then,
I'll fly away.
During the seasons of my life that felt particularly heavy, I would recall the notion that “soon it’ll all be over” or “I’m not made for this world.” I would hoard these little comforts and desperately attempt to feel full and sure of my faith. Then, one happy day, someone did me a favor. I was given a book that reminded me of the truths I already knew, but for the first time, I actually understood them. Surprised By Hope by N.T. Wright helped me discover the vibrancy I had been searching for in daily Christian living. I would encourage you to read it since I won’t be able to do it justice, and also because the following statements are heavily drawn from it.
You were not made for Heaven.
You are right where you are supposed to be.
This truth seems to affront a generation that fixates on escaping, but once you really engage in it, I promise it will change your life. I spent the majority of my Christian life crippled in my hope, not knowing where it came from or how to take hold of it. Today, as a teacher and leader in the church, my sole aim is to bring Jesus glory and I can think of no better way than discussing how we can “live alive” as Christ intended.
What is true Christian hope? How do we engage in it? What does it mean to truly live? These are themes we sing about, but how does this affect daily living? The answer is so simple, yet we convolute these basic tenants of the faith until we no longer realize how they empower us.
The Christian hope is the RESURRECTION. Nothing Jesus did on Earth matters if he hasn’t risen. You’re probably thinking, “Everybody knows that.” But are you living like it’s obvious?
What does the Resurrection mean to you? If your answer is, “It means that Jesus really won over sin,” then you’re right. However, this answer only scratches the surface. Of course, Christ has procured victory over sin and every effect of sin, but the Resurrection isn’t just about that.
The Resurrection means recreation. Recreation of all things and redemption for every detail (Is. 65:17-25, 1 Cor. 15:42-49, Rev. 21). The Resurrection gives you a purpose on Earth right now!
The Resurrection ushers in God’s redemptive work, starting with Christ, who is the first fruits (1 Cor. 15:20, Col. 1:15). First fruits. I always brushed over that before. “First fruits” gives the idea that there will be more — and who will that be?
You and me! (Rom. 8:23, 1 Cor. 15:22 & 51, Col.3:4)
When you die, your soul doesn’t merely float up to Heaven, appear in a white robe, and then enter into a worship service forever (which was my serious understanding, and even musicians don’t want to sing forever).
Christ is coming back to Earth. Not to destroy it or to snatch you up to Heaven. He’s coming back to put everything right. Imagine Eden, but better (Is. 65: 17-25, Rev. 21). First it was Jesus; soon it will be us (Is. 65:17-25, Rev. 21). Jesus shed the corruptible earthly body and exchanged it for the incorruptible (1 Cor. 15:42-43). He was beheld by his disciples, living among them for forty days before his ascension (Acts 1:3). You could talk to him, touch him, and eat with him (John 21:15).
Christ mandates us to work for his Kingdom. His Kingdom involves souls being saved, yes, but it is also the restorative work of redemption. Our votes matter. Our environmental tasks matter. The mundane tasks of the day all have a Kingdom purpose. The truth is, our every action echoes into eternity (1 Cor. 15:58).
You, the insurance adjuster, are doing the Kingdom work at your desk among people who may or may not understand what you believe but are watching closely to see if it’s real.
You, the third-grade teacher, are showing Jesus’ kindness and steadiness to an impressionable group of young people.
You, the stay at home parent, are doing the best thing you ever could do. You are exemplifying the Gospel to your family, showing them how the Kingdom works, and how the actions of their lives matter.
You, the artist, are communicating the immeasurable dimensions of God’s beauty in a language that all cultures can understand.
You do not have to be a full-time minister to usher in the Kingdom. Let’s not even use that term, “full-time minister” — we are all “full-time” Kingdom bringers. Every post matters. Every personality matters. The songs you choose to sing at your churches matter in order to fuel the Christian hope, anticipating the Second Coming of Christ and energizing congregants for daily Kingdom building. Your Christian hope is the best thing you have to offer this world.
Make no mistake, Jesus is in charge. There is nothing that surprises or baffles him. Our songs are vehicles of worship that declare where our hope and allegiances lie; not in a country or a system, but in the unstoppable Kingdom that Jesus inaugurated with his resurrection.
This is how we live alive — by being aware of Christ’s “present risenness” as Brennan Manning puts in Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging. Christ is alive and his resurrection has implications for our every-day living. We anticipate the same glorification of our earthly bodies, knowing that our every action on this planet echoes into the New Creation that Christ will usher in upon his Second Coming.
The applications for us are boundless. My hope is that every believer would be infused with this glorious hope; that it would serve as a lens to view life’s circumstances. That it would inspire creativity and good work in our daily missions and ministries. That we would be proactive in equipping the younger generation by teaching them to be driven by Kingdom purpose; their lives being a foretaste of what’s to come.
This has been the hope that has fueled me through tragedy and transition: that my life on Earth is the prelude to eternity. Every movement will be amplified and regenerated, just as we all will be.