by Pete Garcia
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)
As I was driving over to the service station to get my oil changed, I began listening to a great bible teacher who happens to post a lot of his bible studies online via MP3. As he was beginning Revelation 4, he began expounding on 4:1 and the qualities of time. He explained that God, as the Creator of time, is not bound by time like we are. As humans, we can look back into the past, but we can’t see into the future. God does not have that constraint.
Considering a verse like 1 John 3:2, means that at some point in the future, we too, should not be constrained by time. And that got me thinking of something that not only explains oodles of scriptures, but also had a slightly jarring effect on me.
He (the teacher) remarked that once we are in heaven, and have the opportunity, should be able to travel back through time and witness the events that have baffled mankind, and in particular, things like creation and the various ways God has interacted with man over the ages. Immediately, Hebrews 12:1 popped into my head. I know, that in context, Hebrews 12:1 is referring back to the ‘Hall of Faith’ found in Hebrews 11. But the concept is similar to what I was thinking.
Now, if we are allowed that opportunity, and I think that it is a very reasonable one, might mean that every believer will have the opportunity to travel back to any point in time, or just watch it all unfold. I would like to introduce a verse by Paul that falls along the same lines of what I’m attempting to convey.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
Are we as the Church to be examples of God’s grace? Taking at face value, that might sound pleasant. But I believe that to be a very humbling statement, on the part of the reader. Considering, I know what all the bad, rotten things I’ve done in my life. Will my life be reviewed for believers of all ages, or for some future peoples that God can point back at and say…”Here is Pete, this is an example of my grace”. I can almost hear the crowds now saying in unison, “That is A LOT of grace!”
And I don’t know this to be fact, something more akin to “holy speculation”, but, what if our lives were opened for anyone and everyone to review? To show how them, how ‘ran the race’? Maybe only our works that survived the Bema Judgment (1 COR 3, 2 COR 5:10) would be put on display.
If most of what you did for the Lord was burnt to a crisp, some wouldn’t have much to show, while others had a vast life to review. Would that not explain why Paul pleaded with believers to live a life worthy of the calling? How different would we live from that moment forward when we became aware of the fact that our very lives are going to be used as examples of God’s grace?
We have story after story of those in the Bible whose lives are laid open for us to study and learn from. Some lives serve as a warning (Korah), and some serve as an example to follow (Joshua). Most of them however, we are shown the good and the bad. I’m sure if they had their druthers, Noah would have left out the drunken tent incident. Lot would have made sure that incident with his daughters wasn’t mentioned. Parts of David’s life would have been edited out. The three denials would have been scratched from the record, if Peter had any say. But God’s inspired men to write EXACTLY what He wanted us to see and know about these men and women.
What I do earnestly believe, is that God will honor the humble, and cast down the proud. Those untold millions of nameless Christians who for all intensive purposes, go through this life unnoticed, are known to God. History may have forgotten them, but God has not. They struggled day in and day out with no fame or glory in this life, spending countless hours in prayer for friends and loved ones, helping the helpless, protecting the innocent, living the gospel by kindness and charity, suffering persecution, ridicule, and martyrdom for His names sake; will have their lives showcased for all eternity.
None of us know with 100% certainty how this will all play out on the other side of the curtain. I can only ponder on the things we do know. We have a Bible full of examples of people who may or may not have known their lives would be put on display for the whole world, should be yet another reason to prompt us to dedicate the days, months, and years we have remaining, to giving God our very best.