"And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever." -Revelation 22:5
“The work we do in the present gains its full significance from the eventual design in which it is meant to belong.” This is a quote from N.T. Wright in his book Surprised by Hope. Wright is discussing the significance that hope brings to the Christian’s present work, and he uses the illustration of constructing an ancient cathedral to demonstrate his point.
Historically, it took a large team of workers and often up to hundreds of years to build a cathedral. One worker shaped stones for a tower; another carved decorative patterns; another made statues for within the cathedral. The workers carried out their tasks without fully comprehending how their work would find its home. However, they pressed on faithfully because they trusted the architect in charge, and they believed their work would not be wasted.
“When the cathedral is complete,” Wright says, “their work will be enhanced, ennobled, will mean much more than it could have meant as they were chiseling it and shaping it down in the stonemasons’ yard.”
I love this example because in the same way, our eternal destiny as Christians brings meaning and purpose to our present work. The small roles we play and tasks we perform in this life are all going to be used in God’s grand story and plan. Revelation presents the end of this grand story, our eternal destiny, as one in which Christians reign forever with the Lord God as their light.
Throughout the Bible, we repeatedly see God’s people asking for God’s presence in praying that God’s light might shine upon them. In the new creation, we see that God’s light not only shines upon his people, it illuminates all of creation! Revelation 22:5 says, “Night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light.” This verse conveys that in the new creation, God’s presence will fill every square inch of reality, and nothing will hinder God’s people from complete access to him. We will exist at all times within God’s light.
This fellowship with God is so close that Believers become associated with God’s throne: as God reigns, so we will reign with him! Each of us will uniquely rule over and steward aspects of God’s restored creation.
The amazing reality is, this fellowship and reign has started, in part, now! 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” One day, we will see the light of God’s glory fully and perfectly reflect it; however, in this present life, our eyes are being opened more and more to behold God’s glory through the Spirit’s work in our hearts. The more we encounter God’s glory, the more we in turn are transformed to reflect his light, thus participating in the ministry and reign of Christ!
When we steward our God-given gifts, roles and jobs in such a way that shows others something of Jesus, we are reflecting God’s light - we are participating in his reign.
We can reflect Christ’s compassion in our parenting.
We can reflect Christ’s beauty in our art.
His restoration in our relationships.
His mercy in our care for the vulnerable.
Or his excellence in the way we work.
As Christians, we join in Christ’s reign by announcing his redemption to a broken world in all we do.
Our future destiny brings meaning to our present work not only because our reigning with Christ has already begun in part, but also because all Christ-reflecting aspects of our work will be carried over into and redeemed in the new creation! As Revelation 21:24 states, “The kings of earth will bring their glory into it.” Just as builders for a cathedral can not see fully how their work will fit into the finished product, so we cannot even imagine how God will use and perfect what we have done in this life within his restored creation. But, we can trust that God will honor our faithful work. As 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Nothing done in Christ is wasted. No sleepless night spent with a sick child. No day showing up for people at school or work when you’re running on an empty tank. No time spent faithfully working through a conflict with a friend or spouse.
Everything you do, done in the power of Christ’s love, can reflect God’s glory. Every act of work can have purpose and eternal significance.
RESPOND: Take a moment to go to God and offer your life as a vessel for his glory. Think through any specific roles and jobs you want to surrender to him.
When we set our minds on heaven, we become of the greatest good in this world. Not only do our lives extend God’s goodness and light to those around us, but our own experience of this life grows fuller and greater. As C.S. Lewis famously said, “Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you will get neither.” Let’s resolve to live heavenly minded as our feet walk this earth.