“That was a little taste of heaven on earth.” Have you ever said that? I have.
The phrase usually follows a particularly powerful experience of musical worship. I’m revisiting several of those unforgettable moments as I type. I’ve had many over the years, on different continents and in different cultures. I love them, and the goose-bumps that come with them.
But I’ve discovered a new way to experience heaven on earth. It doesn’t require talented musicians. No other cultures are necessary. In fact, no other people are needed.
The discovery took place over two legs of a recent Sabbath hike. The outbound leg included a few minutes of eager (and somewhat impatient) reflection on the fact that I will one day be like Jesus. 1 John 3:2 looks ahead to that day: “…when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He is.” There will come a day when we will be transformed, and will spend eternity in a body like Christ’s, with passions like His.
Our God-given desire to be like Christ will ultimately be satisfied in heaven. No more struggle there with pride and lust. No more battles there with self-centeredness and discouragement. It. Will. Be. AMAZING! I can’t wait.
And the good news is, I don’t have to wait. On the return leg of that same hike, I was reminded of the fact that, through God’s word and God’s Spirit, I am being changed day by day to be like Him. Paul reminded the Corinthians (not exactly the most spiritually-minded bunch) that they were being transformed into the image of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18). It’s happening now, today, here on earth. God is carrying out a drastic remodeling project in our lives, and Jesus of Nazareth is the blueprint.
I’ve always described spiritual growth as being more like Christ today than I was last month, and more like Him next month than I am today.
And when that happens, when we act like Jesus, speak like Jesus, think like Jesus, we are doing now what will be normal in heaven. We can experience now, in a small way, what we will one day experience completely in heaven.
Christ-likeness is a little taste of heaven on earth. It doesn’t require music, or multiple cultures, or any kind of gathering. It just requires me, submitting to and eagerly participating in God’s remodeling project, and seeking to walk through my day as Jesus would.
This idea has radically altered my prayer life. In the morning, I ask God to help me experience heaven on earth that day. I ask Him to help me be like Jesus. I embrace and eagerly participate in His work in my life to make me like His Son. And I look forward to the ways He will answer that prayer, and give me a small taste of heaven.
I still look forward to powerful moments of musical worship, and I enjoy the glimpse they provide of what praise will be like in heaven.
But I’m glad to discover that “heaven on earth” is more common than I ever knew.
If you would like to subscribe and receive future Sabbath Thoughts posts as an e-mail, please click on “Follow” in the lower right corner of your browser window.