What if one day you see Donald Trump in heaven? Will you be stunned? Upset? Will you wonder how you and he both arrived in the same place? Will you want to have an immediate word with The Management?
To those who deeply dislike Donald Trump: When was the last time you asked God to show him mercy? Honest question: Do you even want God to show him mercy?
Have you ever tried to pray for an enemy in the same manner as you pray for those you genuinely like? It’s almost impossible in our own strength.
I wonder: Do I really trust God to deal best with those who make life miserable for me and half the other sheep in the pen? Or would I just as soon they were banished from the flock and left to fend for themselves? Honestly, it’s better for everyone that they’re gone. Good riddance.
Am I willing to ask God to guide and grow those I deeply dislike with the same hopefulness in which I pray he grows and guides my loved ones and me? Can I honestly ask God to tend to my enemy’s eternal best interest; to bring them, as gently as they will come, to himself?
Or would I rather my enemy be allowed to walk themselves straight off a cliff to the delight of the hungry wolves below? They had it coming.
Or. What if one day you encounter Nancy Pelosi in the city of God? Can you even imagine her presence there? Is that too great a stretch for even you? Would you be angry that someone like her could ever afford the forgiveness of a holy and just God?
Or do you – secretly of course – hope that she receives not one shred of mercy; that not a single drop of precious grace would be wasted on such a person? She made her own bed in this life, God knows, now she’ll need to lie in it.
Christians believe that one day heaven’s shalom will come again to earth. There will be one Shepherd-King and the whole world over will once again enjoy the benefit of his just and generous rule.
And all those who bear God’s name, people from every nation and tribe, will flow, unopposed and unhindered, through the wide-open gates of the city of God.
On that day, those loyal to the King in the heavens and on the earth will clap their hands in astonishment and wonder. What a finish! Who could ever have imagined?
Christians also believe that as citizens of this future kingdom we’re not to sit around and wait for that day. No, we’re to get busy with the healing kingdom work of our King. We are to live in our world as if heaven has already come.
And even though our king is temporarily absent from us in body, we’ve been given his presence – his Name – to live in us and with us until he returns.
So while we can’t see him, the presence of our Shepherd-King guards and guides the family of God entrusted to him. The Father has tasked his Son; his Namesake; to keep his own children secure and bring them safely home to the place – the home – he’s prepared for them.
Finally and importantly, the presence of the absent Jesus also empowers us do what we cannot do in our own strength: He helps us to forgive sins in his name.
God knows I’ve looked into another person’s heart and declared it utterly deplorable. I’ve carefully examined another’s soul and found it seething with sin and worthy of my full condemnation. I’ve observed the rotting fruit on lifeless branches, considered it dead, and sharpened my ax so as to fell the entire hollow tree.
But here’s the deal. It’s not my place to chop down dead (to me) trees and throw them outside the city gates on the burn pile. They belong to God.
It’s my place to serve the King. And my King has asked me to love my neighbor, and even my enemy, in his own Name. Can I do it? Not without some serious help.
“But I will ask my Father to send a Helper,” Jesus said to his troubled disciples the night before he was crucified by his enemies.
“The world won’t know him, because they can’t see him. But you will know him, for he will come and dwell with you and will be in you.”
“Let not your heart be troubled, friends, neither let them be afraid.”
“Rise. Let us go from here.”
Shalom, and may the true King’s will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
In Jesus’ name.
(John 14, paraphrased)