In the Interlude after chapter 11, Luther says, “I want payment now. I want to know that my life will be better today.” On first glance this might seem a little selfish, but isn’t that what we all want to know. For the first followers of Jesus, they were committing their current lives to following him, not their after-lives. Following him was about today, not about tomorrow. They didn’t think about escaping to some place better, but rather how following him would make their current life better.
The difference is not that they didn’t think about their today, but rather how they thought about their today. Jesus was clear that his kingdom was a different kingdom. It wasn’t about houses or gold or accumulation. His kingdom was about people, it was about bringing life to people who were dead as they were living. Jesus was inviting his followers into a new life, a life that was better…a life that was full…a life that was abundant.
For many today, being a Christian is about where we are going, not where we are now. Heaven is the destination and life is just what we do to fill the time until we get there. Eventually, we will be transformed and receive our new uniform and be allowed to enter heaven. That’s what it means to be a Christian, but…
Following Jesus has never been about tomorrow. It wasn’t understood that way by the first followers and it shouldn’t be understood that way for us today. Following Jesus affords us perspective when things are crazy, hope when circumstances seem hopeless, grace where judgment resides, forgiveness where bitterness has taken root. Following Jesus bridges the sin gap that we have between us and God. Following Jesus produces in us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. Following Jesus gives us a plumb line for truth in a culture that is losing its bearings regarding right and wrong. Following Jesus produces within us a compassion for those who are hurting and struggling around us. These are benefits, not for tomorrow, but for today.
What do you think? Do you ever find yourself stagnant today because you think it will all be better when we get to heaven?