My Dear Friends,
Is it not to our great shame that we live such pedestrian lives when we are a people with an unspeakably glorious destiny? Perhaps you don’t live a pedestrian life; perhaps you are someone who is daily full of “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” If, however, like me, you too often live “beneath your privileges,” this letter is for you.
When Paul begins to spell out the blessings that are the God-given birthright of every justified believer in the Lord Jesus Christ in Romans 5:1ff, he writes this: “and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” This is breath taking. Paul is not writing to a favoured few; he is not encouraging those who have had some post-conversion experience; he is writing to every sinner who has fled to Jesus Christ for salvation. What he writes is true for the youngest, as well as the most seasoned saint - “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” This is so astounding that it is almost impossible to take it in. We have, says the divinely inspired apostle, a sure and certain hope, the hope of “the glory of God.” Not simply the hope of seeing his glory - that would be enough to glory in for all eternity - but the hope of sharing in his glory, that is Paul’s thought. Stop and try to take this in. If you are a Christian, this is your destiny.
The glory of God is all that God is, it is the out-shining of his glorious attributes. Of this glory we are “joint heirs with Christ” (“if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” Roms.8:17). I’m afraid all we can say in response to such revealed truth is to echo the words of the Psalmist, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Psalm 139:6). This is where God one day will bring all his children. This is our destiny in Christ.
Now, my point is this: how then should such people live as they await the consummation of this destiny? Ought we to live dominated by our circumstances, however much they are against us? Are we to so focus on the “good fight of faith”, that we lose the sense of the ultimate triumph that is assured? One of our greatest needs surely is to cultivate the art of heavenly-mindedness. If the glory of God is our destiny and our inheritance, “seeking the things that are above” should be a major preoccupation for every Christian. Our citizenship, even now, is in heaven (Phil.3:20).
I am not in any sense advocating spiritual escapism, as if believers are called to opt out of the world and live in an “uncontaminated atmosphere.” We are called to be salt and light, preserving and irradiating this dark, decaying world with the grace of God in our Lord Jesus Christ. However, your usefulness to God and the gospel in this world, depends on your heart and mind engagement with the world to come. The more heavenly-minded you are, the more earthly use you will be. True heavenly-mindedness does not ghettoize our faith, it envigorates our faith, it brings into the world a savour of the eternal, it gives us a passion to proclaim God’s glory to a dying world.
Our forefathers, no doubt living in less pressured days, made the time to meditate on “the eternal glories that gleamed afar.” They understood that meditating on the Lord and his glory, heaven and our destiny, was a spiritual necessity, not a spiritual luxury. Paul’s injunction, “set your minds on things above” (literally, “think about the things above”), is God’s wise counsel to his church. Too often, if we are honest, we are like Pooh Bear, “Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits.” We have in Christ the unspeakable destiny of the glory of God." It is our Christian birthright, given to us by God’s grace, in our union with Christ. Ponder the privilege of it, the wonder of it, the certainty of it. Stop, even now as you read, and reflect on the glorious destiny that is yours in Christ.
Yours as ever in the fellowship of our Saviour,