Shortly after overcoming Satan in the wilderness, Jesus returned and settled in Capernaum. “From that time on,” Matthew writes, “Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” (Mt. 4:17)
Repentance, unfortunately, is one of the most misunderstood and misused words in our Christian culture. My hearing of it has come either in the context of a judgmental “or-you’re-going-to-Hell” spirit or a sanctimonious “what-the-Church-needs-today-is” sentiment.
The word used for “repent” here is “metanoeó.” It means “to change one’s mind or purpose.” In other words, after hearing the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, the only appropriate response is to repent. The act of repentance, sometimes referred to as “turning,” brings about a change in my inner man, to the point that I begin thinking and acting in a different way.
And, as I yield my life to my new Lord and master, I am given the inherent capacity to actually change my mind, or rather, to have it changed for me by Holy Spirit’s application of God’s word, and his empowerment of my will to live it out.
It is important to mention here that, while I need to change my mind and purpose, i.e., repent, only once in order to be saved, in salvation I am also committing myself to a life of change. At the point of salvation, while I have been placed into a new relationship with my Father God in Christ, old thought patterns still remain, be they religious, societal, historic, or whatever, that need to conform to new patterns. This has been and will continue to be my journey, thus bringing my life into line with God’s Word that tells me “to be made new in the attitude of your mind; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:23,24)
My life in Christ is a life of thinking and acting in different ways about myself, about the people around me and about my world. It is a life of learning to see myself, the people around me my world in a different way – with a changed mind and purpose.
I have journeyed to unfamiliar places and have encountered many uncommon thought patterns in my life. One of these was when the concept of “On Earth as it is in Heaven” was stated in a manner that was actually unfamiliar and uncommon to me. It was a manner that made me, at first, resist, but then, think.
So, I pondered the question, “What does this statement mean?” for a very long time. However, I was unable to come up with a satisfactory answer. So, I changed the question which, of course, led to a second question.
The first question was, “What is it like in Heaven?”
So, I began searching God’s Word for conditions that exist in Heaven, and found many, for its glory is extraordinary, its quality is superb and the wonders of God’s eternal presence are countless!
The next question was this: “Do these qualities exist on earth as they do in Heaven, and, if so, in what manner?”
So, the journey began.
As I travelled, long-held patterns of thought started unraveling, which concerned me at first. Yet, as I continued, new patterns of thought began to take shape.
One of the main concepts that emerged during this time was this: While there is an eternal state that I will live in with Christ forever that is beyond anything I will ever know on this Earth, and that will be fully manifested at the end of this age, the conditions that will exist forever in Heaven actually exist already – both in Heaven and on Earth.
So, while I await the glory that will be revealed in Heaven, I will celebrate the glory that God brings in the everyday to my world, on Earth, as it is in Heaven.