The song begins with an upbeat tune and a vigorous clapping of hands - but when I hear it start I cannot get to the radio fast enough to turn it off or change channels. I do not want the message to sear my conscience.
In order to avoid copyright infringement I will only say that its content is something like this: This world is not what it was intended to be, so I want to get out of here as fast as possible and go to heaven. He goes on to say that this is not where he belongs and that his home is in heaven. Then something about golden streets, etc.
What an abdication of responsibility! This song is more of a dirge than anything else. Yes, we have a hope for heaven, but our hope also is a present reality for the love of God has been poured forth into our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit - it is incapable of disappointment (Romans 5:5).
When Joseph and Mary found the child Jesus after a long search his reply to their admonishment was: “Did you not know that I must be doing the works of my Father?" (wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? KJV) Other translations say: “Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?"
He had not been lost as His earthly parents rightly thought for He had been about His Father’s business - He was at home with His Father. On this side of heaven, we too are not lost looking for home. If we are about our Father’s business we are at home - just as He was.
But He answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." John 5:17 This was His full purpose - he did not want to be somewhere else.
When His disciples asked Him how they should pray His reply was: “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.’”
Yes, this world is not what it was meant to be. But, I wish someone would help me to understand why Christ instructed as to pray that the Father’s will would be done on the earth just like it is being done in heaven - if our only hope is to escape the Father’s creation. Especially when He initially looked at it and saw that it was good. Could we possibly believe that what ensued in the garden caught Him by surprise - or that He is not able to complete that which He has begun.
If we are praying for the will of God to be done - then that is where our home is. My relationship with my wife is such that where she is that is where my home is - might it be even more so with our Heavenly Father. While He is at work in and through us that is where our home is - until our course is finished at the appointed time.
One of the most egregious misapplications of a passage of scripture - in my opinion - is John 14:2. The KJV has it like this: “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” That is an abysmal interpretation and leads to many unfortunate misunderstandings. Something more akin to the intended truth would be: “There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home.” This is about relationship - not real-estate. This verse - kept in context - has nothing to do with rooms, walls, much less mansions - over there somewhere. The root word is used in only one other place in the New testament and it is in this same chapter: Jesus replied, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him.” The noun home is derived from a verb which means to abide. This home is not constrained by time or space. He says He will come to us, not that we will go to Him. Oh, how we have missed this present reality.
If abdication of our responsibility seems to be our only recourse than why do the Scriptures declare?:
“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17 NIV
“The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” Psalm 24:1-2
We must expunge these passages and a plethora of others just like them if heaven is home where I belong right now.
The final disposition of this world is not one of annihilation - but transformation. Such is the state of each of the redeemed: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 When Christ comes to dwell in us we are not annihilated, but transformed.
As it is with the ransomed creature - His elect, so shall it be for all of creation. “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Romans 8:19-21 Could the sovereign plan of the Father be made any more plain including our place in it?
Bishop N.T. Wright says: “God, After all, is the creator; he has no interest in leaving earth to rot and making do for all eternity with only half of the original creation. God intends to flood the whole cosmos, heaven and earth together, with his presence and grace, and when that happens the new world that results, in which Jesus himself will be the central figure, is to be the ‘inheritance’ for which Jesus’ people are longing.”1
The apogee of the Father’s intent must be: “And blessed be His glorious name forever; And may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen.” Psalm 72:19
At this point credit must be given as an epilogue to other contemporary Christian artists who have been gripped by a vision greater than abdication.
And I will live, to carry your compassion
to love a world that's broken
to be your hands and feet
and I will give, with the life that I've been given
to go beyond religion to see the world be changed, by the power of your name.
Listening to these words right now from 1806:
Oft in danger, oft in woe,
onward, Christians, onward go;
bear the toil, maintain the strife,
strengthened with the bread of life.
Onward, Christians, onward go,
join the war, and face the foe;
will ye flee in danger's hour?
Know ye not your Captain's power?
Be assured fellow believer that in this present state you are secure in the faithfulness of the Son of God. And with the Psalmists we may say: “Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.”
1 Wright, Tom, Paul for Everyone, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002, p. 12