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Jun 29, 2023

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:17).

Most of us spend the occasional moment dreaming about the future. When we are young, we tend to dream about our futures in this world. Older Christians might dream about the life to come. God would have us dream about this future.

There are various ways in which the Bible speaks about this life to come, the life in the new heavens and earth. Many of these references are astonishing. They often go beyond what we dare to dream. Take for example, Romans 8:17, “Now if we are children [of God], then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ...

Here, the Bible uses very human language to express an astonishing truth. We all understand that an heir receives the material possessions of a person who has died. We are named an heir by someone who loves us and wants to bless us. Some of us have received an inheritance when someone we knew, probably a family member, died. This we understand.

But this verse says that we are heirs of God. It’s not that God is going to die, but at some point, everything God has will be given to his children. But what does this mean? Paul elaborates when he writes, “we will be co-heirs with Christ.” We know that Christ will receive the glory he had from the beginning of time, the glory of God himself.

Now Jesus, being the Son of God by his nature, has a right to this glory. But we will somehow share this glory with him. Not because we have a right to it, but because of God’s grace. He wants us to share it with him. But what is this glory?

Again, it is difficult for us to use human language to adequately describe God’s glory. In one sense, we can say that it is his presence. His presence radiates his glory. We could describe it as pure, unblemished, holy. We could imagine a world without anything wrong in it: no death; no physical or mental illness; no earthquakes; no war; no poverty. We also need to imagine it as an existence without selfishness, lust, pride, arrogance, greed, or any other human vice. It is a place of pure goodness.

But it is also a place where all our endeavours turn out. We are successful in everything we do. All new technologies and tools are useful and will do no harm to people or their environment. And all these things will give glory to God. All of us will be artists in our own fields. Our art will be beautiful.

Is all of this going too far? Not at all, Jesus says that “the meek will inherit the earth” and the “poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:5,3). In the end these two places will be one and the same. It is our inheritance.

But Paul does include this: before we inherit, we must join Christ in his sufferings. Not in his salvific suffering on the cross, but his suffering of humility as recently described in Philippians 2. This is the suffering we endure for the sake of the kingdom. This is the cost of discipleship. What might this involve: a smaller vacation so that more can be given to the poor or kingdom causes; giving up a promotion because it demands too much time; offering oneself as a volunteer during retirement; putting aside part of our income as a gift to God; befriending that unliked person.

When you dream about the future, what do you dream about? Do you dream about what probably won’t come about, or about what is certainly going to happen? Do you ponder the cost of following Jesus?

As you journey on, go with the blessing of God:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever he may send you. May he guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May your day end with rejoicing at the wonders he has shown you. May you rest in his provision as he brings night, and then new dawn.