Saturday, 14 April 2012

Relax, You're Home

Terrible panic in my hotel room. Emptying out my suitcase and rucksack to find my ticket to take me back to the United Kingdom. Hotel manager knocking on door to tell me that there had been a mistake and actually the room had been booked by someone else, so could I get out now. Phoning my parents only to be told by my aunt that they had gone on holiday, and having the line breaking up. Emailing someone I met at an apologetics event to see if he could help, only to learn he was now First Minister of North East England and wouldn't have time to respond to emails.

And then I woke up, looked around and thought "Relax, you're home."

For us as Christians, we have a place called home, and Jesus makes a wonderful promise about it in John 14:2-6. What - among other things - is Jesus up to at the moment? Preparing Heaven for us. And how do we get there? Is there a British Rail train service which, if you die when there's engineering works, requires you to hang around in Purgatory and get a replacement bus service to Heaven?

Well, Jesus has the answer to that - I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Pretty clear, although some will misinterpret this (one misinterpretation that I was given a few weeks after I became a Christian went along these lines - we know that all religions lead to God, and therefore here Jesus is clearly saying He is found in all religions. That is of course circular rrasoning - starting from the premise that salvation is found in all religions and then from that using the Bible to "prove" that salvation is found in all religions).

Jesus is pretty clear on this in saying that He is the only way.

I recently had a short holiday in Belgium and Germany. I had to show my passport 4 times - once to the French police at London St Pancras International on the way to the continent, and on the way back to Belgian police and then British immigration at Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid, and finally to British police at London St Pancras International. What does it tell them? That I am a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is my home country. This is where I feel at home, where things are familiar, where the customs and practices are not alien to me, where I take them for granted.

But I am a citizen of another place - Heaven, as it says in Philippians 3:20.

Why am I a British citizen? Because I was born here.

Why am I a citizen of Heaven? Because I was born again into the Kingdom of God. God - for no reason other than His mercy, grace and love - decided I would be one of His.

Some of, for me anyway, the most moving passages in the New Testament are where we are told about this process- firstly in Romans 8:30 where we are told that those God predestined he called, justified and glorified; and secondly in Ephesians 1:3-14 where we are assured that our inheritance, our place in Heaven, is guaranteed.

If God says something is guaranteed, then it is guaranteed.

No scrummaging through spiritual luggage to find what we need to get to Heaven- it's already guaranteed by the same Jesus who told us in John 10:27 that no-one can snatch His sheep (that means us!) out of God's hand and we will never perish.

Relax, you'll be going home one day.

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