Learning to Live the Reality of Heaven’s Rule

As disciples (literally students) of Jesus, our goal is to learn to be like him. We begin by trusting him to receive us as we are. But our confidence in him leads us toward the same kind of faith he had, a faith that made it possible for him to act as he did. Jesus’s faith was expressed in his gospel of heaven’s rule, the good news of the “kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 4:17). Heaven is a deeply significant word. From Abraham (Genesis 24:7) onward, it signified to the people of Israel the direct availability of God to his children, as well as his supremacy over all that affects us. From heaven, “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry” (Psalm 34:15; also 1 Peter 3:12).

Jesus was concerned to pass on to his followers this reality of heaven’s rule that undergirded his life. When he sent his twelve friends out on their first mission, he told them it was like sending “sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matthew 10:16). It would be butterflies against machine guns. Nevertheless—imagine sheep being told this!—there was no need for them to fear. Two sparrows cost a penny. Yet not one falls upon the earth “apart from your Father.” Heaven is so close that even the hairs on our heads are numbered. “So do not be afraid,” Jesus tells us. “You are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29–31).

From The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship. Copyright © 2006 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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