In counseling conversations, counselors are often looking for the places where people are motivated to change. The exploration process leads to insight: counselors help people see themselves, their problems, God, and others in a more accurate light. That leads to the question, “What do you want to do in response to this new clarity that you have gained?” This is a question of motivation. Many of us may struggle here as we find, well, we just don’t feel motivated to do much of anything that will be productive. Others may find that they have no idea what to do in response. There is no vision for the way forward.
For both places of struggle, it can be helpful to consider a distinctly Christian source of motivation. And to find that, we can go to the Lord’s Prayer. In his tender care of our souls, the Lord Jesus taught us how to pray.
Hear the first sentence:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. (Matt 6:9–10)
These are words for you to speak to your Father. And they are words for you to contemplate. The insights and applications are numerous—of course they are. Today we will contemplate them for the times we need to stir up our affections and motivations. Indeed, we must lean hard into this prayer and let it have its way in us. For times we lack motivation to address a problem we face, let’s allow it to form our desires and our intentions by asking, What would it look like to bring a little bit of heaven down into this area of struggle? When we lack vision, a question like this can open new vistas for us.
It can lead us to imagine what the culture of heaven is like. How do God’s people act in that place? How do they interact with one another? How do they respond to one another? Consider these questions—and keep considering them until you find answers that bring a smile to your face and a thrill to your soul. And after reflecting on questions like these, we can then ask, What would it look like to bring some of that into my problem? What would it look like to bring an aspect of the culture of heaven into how I have a conflict with my spouse? Into how I respond to my child’s tantrum? Into what I do after I have been hurt by someone who is dear to me?
If heaven is our true home—and it is—then our hope is that we are increasingly living in ways that correspond to reality as it is there. That infuses a problem we are facing now with an opportunity—an opportunity to bring a bit of heaven down to earth, down even into this moment, into this interaction.
Well, you might be thinking, it sounds like a good idea, but it is hard to do. True. It’s hard to do if we think about our own capabilities. But we have a tender Shepherd who gives us what we need, beyond what we ourselves can do. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16). Your advocate, your helper, the Holy Spirit, is with you now—and he isn’t leaving. And so he will help you to do the Father’s will in your life. He will give you the power to bring a feature of heaven down to earth. And so, Lord, because you are with me, I am bold to consider, how may I bring a characteristic of heaven to earth in my next step forward in this tough situation? This is hopeful. This is empowering. This is motivating amidst hard problems.
And it’s our purpose.
That brings us to Jesus’ words in John 16:7. For years, I struggled to grasp what he meant:
“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
When I read that, I was dubious. Skeptical, even. Really? It’s better if Jesus goes to heaven? Where we can’t see him? Or talk to him face to face? Where the world can’t be directly challenged or comforted or confronted by his teaching? That didn’t seem better to me. But I’ve come to see that God has empowered millions of Christians to go and bring heaven down to earth. (And even think of how we are called Christians: we bear the name of Christ himself and have been identified with him.) God has empowered his Christians to infuse the culture of heaven into a hurting world. He has scattered his Christians far and wide, to the ends of the earth, and called us to bear witness to the One we bear the name of, the One who brings life from death. That’s better. The man who came from heaven to earth is with each of us now through his Spirit. Jesus is one person, but he’s made a people for himself, and the Spirit equips us to go. To go faithfully and to be Christ’s body wherever we are, wherever he puts us. That’s so much better.
And so in all the places of your life that are hurting or struggling, remember this: you can bring something of heaven into that very struggle, one choice at a time, one word at a time, one response at a time. And remember your purpose. You are a citizen of heaven and so proceed in such a way that your true country is represented.
May it be so—in our hearts, in our homes, and in our churches—that God’s people do God’s will. And may we do it steadily, routinely, and predictably on earth, just as it is now being done in heaven.