For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.–Romans 11:29 (NASB)
What else do we get to keep? What else is eternal? (To see part 1, click here )
You are called to be a member of the body of Christ, right? Let me ask you an important question? What is your function now in the body of Christ? Who are you in relation to the body of Christ? What does that have to do with caterpillars and butterflies? Are you a foot, hand, ear, eye? The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Do you think that your position in the body will cease in eternity? Is your position in the body of Christ temporal? I’ll answer that by asking you this question: Will Jesus stop being the Head in eternity? Will He change from being the Head and start functioning as something different in eternity? Is His calling as the Head of the Body a temporal calling? Or is it an eternal calling? Now, His earthly mission and work on the Cross is completed. He said, “It is finished”. But, in eternity, will His position as the Head of the Church come to an end? Is it also finished? The answers to these questions will directly explain the context, meaning, and purpose of your very unique life in a way that you may not have grasped before.
As I read the scriptures, I come away with the feeling that His function as the Head of the Church is just getting started. His current position as the Head will be more fully understood and realized in eternity. He will be fully revealed, and it will take all of eternity to fully grasp it. It takes an eternity to fully know God and everything that was, and is, and is to come. To know God is to also know what He has done. Eternal Life is to learn and then know Him, to learn and then know what He knows, and to join with Him in His experience. That is what real knowledge and eternal life is all about (John 17:3). I am forever learning about my wife, the love of my life. The mystery never ends. To really know her requires me to learn what she has learned, to be present with her now, and to join with her in new ventures. It’s fun! Just when I think I have it all figured out, I learn something new! How much more amazing will it be to learn and discover God, along with everything that has ever been and will be? I wonder…If I ask Him how He made Jupiter, will he take us on a field trip to the inner core of the planet? The adventure will just be getting started. So, in eternity, His position as Head will be more fully realized.
Romans 8:28 Is Prophetic And Will Be Fulfilled
If He will still be the Head, then what will that mean for me and you? It means that all the stuff, the trials, the heartaches, the detours, the dead-ends, the joys, the pains, the highs, and the lows, the energetic moments, and the seemingly idle times in this life will all come together and begin to make sense. If Christ remains the Head and is more fully realized, then this life will make more sense and have more meaning because your position in the body of Christ will become more fully realized as well. Are you starting to see? You will understand more fully for what you were being prepared. Your life is not in vain. Your calling in the body is eternal. The application and outcome of your gift as a foot may change. There may be some tweaks that you can’t understand now, but every part will still have a purpose and will continue to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. Here’s a picture: Caterpillars and butterflies are the same creatures. One is pre-cocoon and concealed, the other is post-cocoon with beauty revealed. They may not operate the same, but they are the same. We are all in the caterpillar stage of eternal life. What each of us will become is not yet revealed; and yet, we will still be who we are. In eternity, God has no desire to destroy our humanity or wipe away our gifts and callings. Rather, He intends to fully reveal who we are; Christ in us. That is the hope of what we will see fully revealed.
Good Works Do Not End With This Life
Your purpose and work will continue in eternity. We have only just begun. Don’t just read the following passage, but listen to it. Listen to how it talks about the past, the present, and the future all at the same time. Is he just talking about the past and present; or, in the ages to come, will we be doing good works? Ephesians 2: 6-10
I can tell you this. In Revelation we are told that the one who remains faithful to God’s purposes will reign over nations. He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; 27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father. That sounds like work being done in eternity. Reigning and resting are not the same. Jesus said this in a parable: The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.17“‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’18“The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’19“His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’ In Timothy we are told more of the same: If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. (How does handling money translate into ruling cities? The same way a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. Your task in life will translate into something beautiful). Ruling and Reigning with Christ sounds like work, good work, to me. Hint: If you have gifts of administration, leadership, then you also need to develop patience. Do not think that working with sinless humanity will reduce the need for patience. Think about that.
Gold, Silver, and Precious Stones: Ornaments Or Something Entirely Different?
For too long, people have been teaching us that our rewards and crowns are accessories and adornments to be worn while we sing, and worship. On the contrary, our rewards are greater authority to do the good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. For too long, we have been taught that gold, silver, and precious stones are ornaments to be adored while we rest. But in God’s economy, gold, silver, and precious stones represent the substance of resourceful power and ability to build. Build? Build what?
Now you may be thinking, “How can any of my skills be used in Eternity? I don’t want to rule, I’m not an engineer who likes to build, I don’t have talent, and My life is mundane. How will it count? In order to understand everlasting life, it helps to understand what this life now is all about.
Are You In Boot Camp?
Earlier, I said that we are in the caterpillar stage of eternal life. Let me give another analogy. This life is boot camp. We are training for reigning. This life is the initial boot camp portion of everlasting life. In basic training, we were required to do many things that seemed senseless, useless, purposeless, and tedious. For example: We had to fold our underwear into perfect squares within 1/16th of an inch of the standards. In addition, it had to be wrinkle free. How would this help us in the life after boot camp? We couldn’t see any purpose of how this stupid chore would translate to anything useful in our life after basic training. Some people in our flight never got it right, and they never experienced the immediate privileges that could be enjoyed in boot camp. Nevertheless, we were obedient and slogged through the blood, sweat, and tears of those weeks. Even though we never folded underwear like that ever again, the precision and attention-to-detail that we acquired through this mundane chore turned out to be very helpful in our military duties after basic training. Some people who had good experiences in boot camp didn’t always fare well in the rest of their enlistment. Some who were miserable throughout boot camp, but endured, had very good careers. We didn’t understand any of that until we entered the life AFTER boot camp. That’s when the Sergeant let us know that since we were faithful in little benign things like precisely folding underwear, we could be trusted to torque the bolts on multi-million dollar aircraft. It wasn’t until the hereafter that we began to understand the lessons of boot camp.
You are in eternal life boot-camp, and it probably isn’t altogether pleasant. You may feel like you are in a cocoon of death. At times it makes no sense. You may feel like all of your efforts have brought little notice and much futility. The detours and dead ends seem to be pointless. Even the passage which says, “All things work together for the good…” doesn’t add up for you in this life. Everything feels like folding underwear and shining belt buckles. Your trials and pain make no sense for this life, or for anything that you can imagine to be of value on the other side. If you experience pleasures and rewards in this life, enjoy them. Work for them, but don’t strive in a manner of thinking which places a value on them that blinds you to press for the true value of what lies ahead. Don’t fall in love with this world, or the things of this world. Set your affections on things above because this is only boot camp.
Diligent Caterpillars Become Free Butterflies
Stay faithful, remain true. Keep your hand to the plow. While you develop your skills and talents, don’t neglect folding the underwear. If you are stuck in a life of “folding underwear”, then believe the truth that somehow, someway you are being prepared for something that you will actually enjoy. Diligent Caterpillars become free butterflies. Some of us may have a glimpse of what we are being prepared for. But the ones who are folding underwear may be receiving a prize that cannot be imagined or understood. You may go unnoticed, unappreciated, and shunned in this life..But the last will be first. Don’t fix your eyes on what you can see, but listen to what has been written and by faith fix your eyes on the next stage. What you see is temporary; It’s just boot camp; Understand that. Don’t get too attached to it. The unseen things in the next stage is where the real life is. The unseen things are truly eternal.
I would like to encourage you to study the following passages: Ephesians 4: 7-16, 2 Peter 1:5-11
Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.–Colossians 1:12