The Dancing Puritan

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Home, Heaven and Bethlehem

Crawfordville, GA

I'll be home for Christmas...if only in my dreams.  

Do you ever get homesick?  There are special attachments that most of us hold for the town of our birth.  I grew up in a small town and never imagined that it would have any real significance to me as I grew older.  However, as childhood dreams give way to adult realities, I have discovered, with the lengthening of the wrinkles on my face, a real affection for the town of my youth.

Certainly it is natural for one to have appreciation for the earthly place that they call home.  However, for the Christian, there is a land on a far away strand tis a beautiful home of the soul; built by Jesus on high, there we never shall die, tis a land where we never grow old (James Moore).  The Christian should have a homesickness for heaven.  Do you long for heaven?

Sometimes heaven has been referred to as a state of mind.  It has been viewed as a place where transparent spirits float amongst the clouds in a kind of dreamy existence.  The Bible, however, tell us that heaven is a real place where real people will spend a real eternity with a real Savior who really came to the cradle in Bethlehem and really lived a righteous life.  He really died on the cross as the substitutionary sacrifice for His people, and really ascended to heaven, where today He really sits at the right hand of God praying for His people.  One day He will really return!

Before Jesus was crucified he spoke to his disciples about the place He was preparing for them.  His words were intended to give comfort and hope to disciples who were about to be severely tested and most of whom would eventually be martyred for their faith.

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-2).

Jesus instills within the disciples hope.  He is about to leave but He will be coming back.  In fact, while He is away He will be actively preparing a place for them and for all who will believe in Him.  Heaven, according to the Bible, is a real place.

If you are a Christian, God is your Father; Christ is your Lord and Savior; and heaven is already your home, though you do not yet physically occupy it.  The Bible teaches that Christians are already citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).  Therefore, we should long for heaven.  We should live for heaven.  We should bring our heavenly citizenship to bear upon all earthly relationships and activities.  The people of this world should be able to look at our lives and see a little bit of heaven on earth. In fact, when the church is gathered, we do get a glimpse of heaven's worship (see Revelation 4-5 and Hebrews 12).

What does this have to do with Christmas? So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.  To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation (Hebrews 9:28).  Christ came to the earth for the purpose of dealing with our sins.  Bethlehem was His first stop on the way to Calvary.  Over the cradle of Bethelehem loomed the shadow of the cross. Yet there is more in view here.  Do you see it?  Beyond Calvary was Heaven to which Jesus ascended and from which He will return for His people.  Without Bethlehem there is no eternal home for believers.  Without heaven, Bethlehem loses it's significance.

This Christmas, as we think of Christ, we must start with heaven.  From heaven Jesus came.  To heaven Jesus ascended.  From heaven He will return.  To heaven all of His people will go.  As you remember the cradle, don't forget to keep your eyes fixed on heaven.