Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

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Acceptance is so important that it is praise to God. It is remarkable that this one Together is stated in Scripture to bring praise to God. Of, course, all of the Togethers do. But this one is singled out. Surely we do not want to treat it superficially.

Rom 15:7 says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

Praise is brought to God in two ways when Christians accept other Christians. The first is because each person, Christian or not, is designed by God. The second is spiritual. Christians have been made new people through Christ’s sacrifice and to accept them no matter anything else about them is praising God and His love.

Let’s start with the physical and mental side that each person is designed by God. To quote from my book Find Yourself – Give Yourself, published in 1983 by Navpress, “Each one of us has been uniquely, individually created by the most skillful, artistic, and imaginative architect of all – the God of the universe.” God expects us to accept both his design of and his assignment for other Christians. If we do not, it is the opposite of praise.

Accepting one another requires that we respect God’s decision to design each person as He chooses. Inside of every person, Christian or not, is the breath of God, carried forward from when God brought Adam to life from the dust of the ground.

Does a person have a different color of skin, an exceptionally large head, a diseased hand? Is a person hard to understand because of a different nationality or ethnic group? If so, and the person is not a believer, we know from the Bible that we are to still accept them. We who appreciate God for all He is should work at accepting all kinds of people worldwide.

However, this Together has to do with accepting Christians. If we are to accept the differences in God’s creative design of those not of the faith, surely we are to accept believers who are different from us.

Praise is accepting other believers as they have been designed by God, their physical appearance, mental state, race, nationality – you name it. To not do so is to demean God’s sovereign right to decide what a Christian is like, how that saint looks, where that believer came from, what God wants him or her to do and how she or he is to do it.

But it is likely that the spiritual side of acceptance is what brings praise to God the most.

All believers have been highly valued by God who sent His Son to die for them. It is like their value was $10 but God valued them at a million dollars and paid that much in Christ’s blood. As a result, beneath different colored skin and different configurations of body parts is a new spirit, what the Bible calls the “new self”. Each and every believer is a new creation in Christ. Therefore, to accept one another at the level of our regenerated spirits is to bring praise to God, and to not do so is to dishonor God.

Obviously, who a person is deep down inside, as a redeemed spiritual being, is far, far more important than any physical characteristic. Different skin color, different way of worshiping God, and a thousand other things are not that important. Believers are very much alike at the level of their spirits. At death, it is everyone’s spirit that stays alive, and those that enter heaven are all redeemed and refined.

Christ accepted us first as sinners and then as people He redeemed to belong to Him and be in God’s kingdom. Those two aspects of His acceptance are a lot more important than that He accepts our skin color and the shape of our noses and feet, which He also accepts.

And, so, when we meet another Christian, no matter the differences in non-basic doctrine or different facial complexions, what matters a hundred times more than anything else is that we are both believers.

Does a Christian come from a group that has hurt you or your ancestors? On the outside such people may look like the enemy, but on the inside their spirits are redeemed and forgiven through belief in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. Inside, they are like you. Accept that person and what God has done for him or her and bring praise to God.

This command for believers to accept one another goes deeper in another way. Inside of every believer lives the Holy Spirit. And, as a result of our being crucified with Christ, Jesus also lives in each Christian. Therefore, we must handle believers with acceptance because what we see on the outside is not the whole picture.

Gal 2:20 highlights that Jesus lives inside every Christian: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

When one believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit in whom Jesus lives accepts and welcomes another believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit in whom Jesus lives, it is easy to see how God is praised.

Too many Christians resist this command because they think acceptance means agreement. Therefore, they withhold acceptance because they think others will take it as approval. And, it is unfortunate that some will.

But acceptance and approval are two very different things. For example, I need to lovingly accept into my presence a person who breaks glass on the sides of woodland trails, even though I have to grit my teeth to do so. But I do not agree that it is okay to alter nature so destructively.

This has always been a hard command to obey in Christian circles. Another Christian has sinful habits and we are tempted to steer clear of him, even though judging is prohibited. Yet to praise God, we are still to welcome this Christian person into our midst unless in the very rare case he or she has resisted Matthew 18 church discipline. In its basic meaning, “accepting” means welcoming.

Accepting is required to provide the “tough love” of the Togethers to produce more righteous behavior. Take a practical example, a man who does not speak to his wife tenderly and makes almost no effort to understand what she means by what she says. We witness this in church or during small group meetings.

We may want to show our disapproval by having little to do with him. But, if he is to change, just the opposite is required. He must be accepted and love proven to him. When we realize that we do not need to agree with him, then we can accept him as a person and see that he needs our help. In fact, the more accepting and welcoming and friendly with him we can be, the more we can get him to listen to us when we activate other togethers such as “Examine One Another’s Faith” and “Forbid Mistreatment of One Another”.

So you can see, accepting and welcoming other Christians is often the gateway to building a loving relationship in order to help one another with sanctification. Then, many Togethers can help and express the deep love of the faith.

Welcoming and accepting people sitting next to us in a church service can be very valuable if it is not quick and expedient. It will probably not lead to deep relationship with but a very few because of the limitations of time and place. But, who knows when that person so befriended will think of one of us when he or she has an urgent need.

However, God’s main assignment for deeper acceptance is in our Christian friendships, Christian families, and Christian marriages where lack of deep welcoming and acceptance can feel like disinterest or rejection. For example, when a father comes home from work and is so happy to greet and hug his 3- year-old princess, does he do so just as enthusiastically when she is older and laden with piercings and tattoos? And, if he is not so accepting, does that not feel to the teenage princess like the most hurtful rejection?

If accepting one another is so important that it is praise to God, let us work hard on growing in it. Let us identify those we are not so accepting of and change to be like God who accepted us when we were still sinners.

The more we are able to now accept and welcome people different than ourselves against the opposition of sin, the more we will develop strong spirits to accept and welcome all the different people in heaven. Those now who are so different that we have trouble greeting them are opportunities to prepare for heaven, whether they are believers or not. What is important is that we learn to love through acceptance by overcoming judgments of others and, instead, think of them from God’s point of view.

Since we will not carry sinfulness with us through the pearly gates, we will certainly accept everyone in heaven. But appreciation for their uniqueness will be diminished if we were unaccepting and judgmental of that kind of person before death. This diminished ability will not be sin, just inability. This is similar to when those of us with little computer skills are being helped at our keyboard by a computer expert who whizzes along, telling us what he or she is doing. We see what is being done, but we just stare blankly, not comprehending. We are not sinning, we just don’t have the background to stay with the process.

Thus, we may be similarly held back in welcoming others in heaven who are quite different than ourselves if we have not broken through on accepting very different people earlier before death. Without sin, we will welcome into our midst someone in heaven who was a murderer before being saved by Christ’s blood. But that welcome will be more full and genuine if we welcomed bad people into our presence before we died.

Accepting people’s differences while surrounded by sin will develop our spirits for heaven so that we can be fascinated with all the different ways people have behaved over thousands of years in many hundreds of cultures. Let’s work on accepting the strangest, most different Christians we can find in order to praise God. This is the way to prepare for enjoying heaven’s inhabitants.

Consider how clearly you can see a mountain once the fog or haze is gone. That is similar to how our perception of other people’s uniqueness is now clouded by sin, theirs and our own. God may have given each of them tremendously wonderful personal qualities, but sins like negativity obscure acceptance and appreciation. Also, our own sinful jealousy can hide good qualities in another person for which we could offer God praise through acceptance.

So, let’s ask God for help and receive it from the Holy Spirit to see past the sin in ourselves and others and see the beauty of God’s handiwork in each Christian. Let’s do this especially with those whom we share a deeper relationship and can, so to speak, see the microscopic view of God’s creative beauty in them.

And, how will we overcome resistance to acceptance of people we don’t really like? By remembering that at the spiritual level, they are redeemed like we are, loved in Christ by God like we are, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit like we are.

To prepare for heaven, identify a Christian who you just do not like. Then accept God’s help to welcome them into your presence where you can painstakingly search for that kernel of beauty you have not yet been able to see and appreciate. Do this until your acceptance of that person blossoms and you can look forward to being with her or him.

Accepting one another in heaven will be great worship of God to the extent that we can rejoice in every citizen’s redeemed and purified spirit through the work of God. Just imagine meeting someone who lived hundreds of years before you in a different culture and accepting them because they are redeemed like you, loved by God like you, and are new creations as a result of accepting Jesus as their Savior.

Perhaps you have now before death found yourself in a large group of strangers when you meet a person who identifies herself or himself as a Christian. Most likely you were delighted to meet another Christian and accepted her or him right then without consideration of race, attractiveness, and other physical characteristics. Nothing mattered as much as that you had the same Lord, received the same redemption, were headed toward heaven, etc.

That acceptance of God’s redemption and purification in another will be the first jolt of heavenly joy when you meet any citizen of heaven. After that, you will go on to accept many different things about them.

There will be unlimited opportunities in heaven to welcome redeemed people from all the different cultures and ages. Christians prepared for heaven will accept and appreciate all this variety in God’s people. They will welcome with open arms millions of people, one-by-one, in whatever is the customary way of heaven’s greeting.

As we admire all of the various wildflowers in a mountain meadow, we will be able to admire the variety of people in heaven as well as the different kinds of angels. There will be unreserved friendliness and hospitality. We will freely seek out others and not wait for someone to approach us. They will also be coming to us with the same excitement.

And we each will be content with who we are. We will no longer have to talk ourselves into accepting ourselves because sin will be gone and what we are not will no longer matter.

Furthermore, those who learned to accept people, welcome them into relationship, and appreciate them back before death will be able to see God’s beautiful handiwork in us. For all eternity we will be supremely valued for the person God made each of us to be
However, keep in mind that we each have to let God develop our spirits to accept others before we die. What has been described is something we have to prepare our spirits for, and it is wise to do it now before we die. How much joy we have in people in heaven for eternity hangs in the balance.

We want God to have all the joy He deserves. Therefore, we will want to have helped others to accept themselves as God designed them. And we will want them to help us do the same.

In heaven we will be able to relate to God just the way He designed each of us. Imagine the joy that will give to God.

Remember when we have each set out to create something we saw in our mind’s eye, whether that be a birthday cake for someone very loved or a carpentry project? Then, remember the joy we felt if it came out just like we meant it to? That’s the way it will be for God to the extent we have accepted our own uniqueness and carry it naturally into our relationship with God. That is why it is so very important that those in our Christian Inner Circles do their work of accepting us and helping us grasp the beauty of our own creation by God in Christ Jesus. Add to that the Together “Commend One Another” and all of us can let go of critical and demeaning thoughts about ourselves.

God is waiting for us to relate to Him for all eternity with the design He gave us from before we were born. He wants to enjoy us just as He created us to be. It will be wonderful to have God enjoy us in this way now and in heaven.

In conclusion, we want to grow our spirits in acceptance of all other Christians to be able to enjoy more the people of heaven, as well as to have a more full relationship with God in heaven.