Opening night. The actors move across the stage speaking their lines with eloquence and handling their props quite naturally. The six weeks of countless rehearsals have helped the actors perfect their characters until they can think and speak and even feel like them. They have learned more than just lines; they have learned to portray their characters exactly as the writer had planned. And now, as the curtain rises and the footlights illuminate them, they inhabit their parts as if they had never known anything else.
How on earth is this this a metaphor for heaven? To answer that question, first consider that God’s eternal Kingdom will revolve around the Lord Jesus Christ, rather than being a place dedicated to our comfort and pleasure. (This is not to say, however, that we won’t experience a joy that we can not yet imagine.) He commands full attention as He rules the new heavens and the new earth.
To our shame, we seldom think of our eternal home in terms of Christ’s preeminence, do we? Instead,we often imagine our joyous reunions with Christians who have died before us, resurrection bodies that no longer suffer from sickness or being in a place with no more sorrow. We anticipate streets of gold and mansions and lavish banquets. Indeed, these expectations come directly from Scripture. But all these blessings, although certainly wonderful, take on a secondary importance to the glorious worship of Christ.
The apostle John, in Revelation, provides several scenes of heavenly worship. I only have time today to cite one example, but I hope it will help you see how all of heaven refers its attention back to Christ.
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. ~~Revelation 5:11-14 (ESV)
In His Kingdom, we will have the sublime joy of showering Him with our praises. He has the starring role, and God has blessed us with the privilege of being His supporting cast.
So how do we prepare for an eternity of glorifying our Lord and Savior? I believe it begins with appropriating the grace He’s given us to live holy lives (Titus 2:11-14). Heaven is characterized, more than anything else, by His holiness and righteousness, and its inhabitants must be adept at living holy righteous lives.
At this point in time, we live on earth, struggling with the attractions and temptations that the world system sets before us. It is in saying no to these attractions that God’s people train themselves to live in the holiness and righteousness that will typify our eternal lives. Therefore, we are like the actors in the rehearsal. Right now we drop lines, mishandle props or forget to stand stage left, but our director (the Holy Spirit) faithfully corrects our mistakes and shows us how to step into our new character. How gracious He is to prepare us for His great play rather than plunking us on stage before we’ve even read the script!