Blast off in a rocket must be one of the most exhilarating experiences. The astronauts can look from their tiny cockpit window and see the launch pad receding from view in a haze of scorching rocket exhaust. As the rocket jettisons each stage, the coastline becomes smaller and the launch pad is no longer visible. Then Florida shrinks. The curve of earth’s horizon increases until it curls back on itself to reveal our blue-green orb in full perspective.
Escaping earth is one thing; soaring into the heavens is another. Paul saw two parts to Jesus’ work: salvation out of sin and into eternal glory.
I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we endure, we shall also reign with Him. (2 Timothy 2:10-12)
Our lives in Christ are like a rocket ride. The good news that we tend to focus on is good in the sense that it is a cancellation of bad news—we are saved from sin. Like the rocket engine, God’s work in us is far more powerful than the gravitational pull of our fallen human nature. We are free!
The danger with settling for Part A of the good news is that our focus is limited to freedom from sin—or lies about our lack of freedom. Many people feel defeated by sin. They experience a measure of victory but in some areas they never seem to find the longed-for breakthrough. They feel detached from the rocket, stalling, or free-falling to earth. Guilt and shame plague them. “Sinner” becomes their identity; subduing the flesh their relentless battle. Their best hope lies in the mercy of God to forgive them and, finally, let them “go to heaven” for a good rest.
But the greatest news is Part B (although it can never be detached from the first part). It is the news of the Kingdom of God. This is the bit that Jesus was so emphatic about. There are several truths wrapped into the news of the kingdom: The King is absolutely good and great. He is victorious and will reign forever. If that sounds wonderful but remote then the rest of the news package should really engage us. The King is our Father. He has adopted us back into His family and given us authority in His kingdom business. His Spirit empowers and informs us to live the kingdom life. We get to work alongside the Father, extending His rule and reign. This life is where we discover what being a child of God is about, where we learn to reign with Him. The position continues into eternity.
As we grow closer to the King of heaven, sin’s gravity is easier to resist and the kingdom life gets clearer and brighter.