Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

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Selflessness will be the nature of life in heaven! There we will be living with believers from every nation and across many centuries. Our spirits need to get ready for heaven’s society and culture where we will live together without so much focus on ourselves. Submitting to one another is a major way to grow for the self-denial of heaven’s relationships. That is because letting others have their way requires self- sacrifice in the likeness of Jesus Christ, which is the prerequisite to true, biblical love.

And, so, the instruction of Scripture is for Christians to submit to one another, which means letting another have her or his way rather than insisting on our own way. Making ourselves less priority is love which is denial of self for the good of others. It is God’s wish for us to be a society of believers filled with love that comes from Him and passes through us to one another. It is the way of the kingdom of heaven.

The instruction of Eph 5:21 is to be a people “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Thus, selflessness shown through submission to one another honors Jesus as our Savior and King. How important is that?!

Submitting to one another is best developed in our spirits through letting others have their way and not caring much about the loss of whatever we had to give up. Letting others have their way when we would want something different is an opportunity for our spirits to grow in the ability to enjoy the joy of others.

For maximum enjoyment of heaven’s culture, we need to be able to take joy in others getting their way, expressing themselves genuinely, and being excited and satisfied. Community in heaven cannot be thought of as a bunch of separate individuals wandering around heaven doing their own thing. Therefore, we need to grow away from each primarily doing his or her own thing now. We need to go to heaven with spirits strong in being centered on others and life together.

How do we get ready to live with others in heaven with as much focus on their happiness as our own? First by not insisting on our own way and letting others have their preferences. Then eventually knowing what others want and helping make those joys happen for them, submitting to their hopes and dreams rather than getting trapped by our own.

Our closest Christian relationships frequently require us to go along with one another rather than insist on our own way. This continual submission to one another’s needs and enjoyments develops selflessness and prepares us for the way of heaven. Submitting to one another changes our spirits from being grounded in this world so that later we can take greater part in the lack of self-focus in heaven.

Biblical community should never be driven by self-focus, but unknowingly it often is. For example, Christians join Bible study groups to learn the Bible and grow in their faith. Rarely do they join a Bible study to help others grow spiritually. “What’s in it for me?” lies right under the surface. True biblical community demands that Christians gather in small groups to work together for their corporate growth in spiritual things. A whole group that grows in trust in God is far better than one or two group members growing in such a way.

If we find joy only in our own experiences, we are shortchanging ourselves. In heaven we will live in a society where everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy their own lives and everyone else’s life simultaneously.

Perhaps we have experienced this at a party or family reunion or sports event where it seems everyone is enjoying themselves. We are not just aware of our own good time, but equally aware of everyone else’s joy. It is infectious! Isn’t that what we are called to in God’s kingdom?
And, add to that experiencing the full joy of the Lord! It is recorded in John 15:11 that Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Consider a large family reunion held for a great, great grandmother who will soon die. Most will experience joy in their own conversations and activities. Many will also feel the joy of everyone else having fun. But a special few will absorb the joy of the matriarch and be truly full of happiness. Will not the greatest joy be in experiencing her joy?

In eternity, Jesus and God, His Father, will be the honored guests whose joy we want to incorporate into our own joy.

If we have stretched ourselves now to submit to others for their happiness before we get to heaven, and if we have gone so far as to imagine the joy it gives Jesus to see everyone getting along and enjoying spiritual fellowship, we will arrive in heaven more capable of joy. Just imagine how good it will be to have this 3-dimensional joy – joy from our own lives – plus joy from all the lives around us – and topped off by the joy of Jesus Himself.

We should each evaluate how far we have matured in enjoying another’s joy. Have we gotten past focusing on our own experiences and made room to pay attention to the joy others are having? Have we grown to enjoy the happiness of others, at least equally with our own joy? What about being able to focus on the joy of Jesus? Do we still primarily recognize His joy in us individually or have we progressed to see His joy in all of us?

Consider that we have an empty jug we want to fill with great tasting water. We have our own bottle of water we pour into the jug. The jug miraculously grows in size and increases its capacity for water. So we add to the jug ten bottles of water shared with us by ten friends. Now we are getting somewhere! But, the jug grows even bigger with yet more room for additional water. Then we go to the One who promised living water and pour His water into the jug. And, the jug grows huge and overflows. This is the way our joy can be full in heaven by submitting to one another and enjoying their happiness – and then enjoying God’s happiness on top of that.
The path to such filling ourselves with joy is in allowing ourselves to feel the joy of others when we submit to, or let them have, their desires (as long as they are not sinful desires) so they can experience life fuller in their own way. In Christian relationships we can let one another enjoy things of life that do not tend to give us joy. But it gives our friend joy and we experience it and expand our own joy. Then we can overflow with joy when we grasp the Lord’s joy because our relationships are full of grace in letting one another enjoy life in different ways.

In heaven for all eternity, we should want to experience maximum joy. It can be so wonderful to enter heaven with well-developed capacity to experience the joy of others by submitting to their wishes and not being stuck on our own heavenly pursuits.

Furthermore, we should want to be able to take in God’s joy. And, what joy that will be!
This together does not mean submitting to the desires of others that are sinful. We do not let another Christian have his or her way in sin. We speak up. That is the Together of warning and admonishing one another. And, of course, we do not submit to another’s invitation to join them in sinning. This Together to submit to one another has to do with that part of life that is not evil.

For example, a couple is celebrating New Year’s Eve and one wants to wait until midnight to go to sleep but the other is tired. It is not a sin to want to stay up or to go to sleep. Since God’s way is love and peace, one person is going to have to submit to the other’s desire to live his or her way. Working out how to do that shows dedication to Jesus and honors Him. Perhaps a short nap will enable the tired spouse to let the other have his or her way. Perhaps celebrating the strike of midnight two times zones ahead will please the sleepy one.
This Together to submit to one another means that we are to give other people their way whenever possible and strive to find solutions where everyone’s needs are met.

Christians submitting to one another is subordinate to submission to God, which is another one of the Togethers. We are to let God have His way in how we think and feel and live. We are not to submit to one another if it ever means not submitting to God and His ways.

Wives submitting to husbands is subservient to this Together of submitting to one another. Wives submitting husbands should never be taught without recognition that as believers they are both first to submit to each other. A wife is never to ignore God and obey her husband. A husband is not to expect submission except in those areas of leadership where he represents Jesus. In those situations where the husband will answer to God for the decisions of the marriage, the husband is in charge, not to get his own way, but to see that God gets His way. Anything he requests that goes against Scripture does not require his wife’s submission. 99% of anything in a marriage falls under the command to submit to one another which requires seeking win-win solutions whenever possible.

In any relationship there will be imbalances as to who gets the more special treatment, who benefits most because the other is more able to submit and be selfless. There is a paradox to this. The one getting his or her own way is getting a “better deal” in this life. And, the one being selfless and letting the other have his or her way is going to get a better life in heaven for all eternity. Jesus emphatically said, “the last will be first and the first will be last.”

From time to time we will have to help someone in our Christian Inner Circles grow in submission. A strong-willed individual may try to force his or her views and recommendations onto another individual rather than allowing that person to exercise his or her free will. Whenever this happens we will have to speak up and help the strong-willed, vocal person give way to the quieter person’s choice.

Then there are people who always give in to the forcefulness of others. What is occurring is not submission but acquiescence. We need to help overly compliant people be able to speak up for their desires. First of all, God does not want the people of His love to be overlooked. Secondly, others need the opportunity to be submissive to the timid person for their own critical spiritual growth.

Selflessness expressed by submitting to one another brings appreciation for being allowed our preference and weaves strong bonds among us. When two friends have a plan to do an activity – and an event especially desired by one of them comes up at the last minute, changing plans is greatly appreciated and the relationship grows stronger. When a child waits patiently for what he wants until his father is finished with a chore, the father is grateful and the relationship is strengthened. When a husband stops what he is doing to help his wife bring in the groceries, the relationship strengthens.

On the other hand, if the devil can get us to be selfish and not let others have their way, relationships deteriorate. If a friend refuses to change plans, if a child throws a temper tantrum because dad won’t drop everything right away, or if a husband ignores that his wife could use some help getting the groceries from the car to the kitchen, a number of negative things are set in motion. Such selfish actions tell the other person that he or she is not valued, the relationship stays distant, and people learn that the other cannot be counted on. Most important, God is ignored and displeased. For it is He who tells us to submit to one another’s needs.

We can grow into more and more selflessness with others by realizing that we are not giving up everything forever. We have far better things already stored away in heaven.
Most of us will feel a bit ridiculous if we step back and look at the relative lack of importance of things lost by giving another his or her way. So what if we had to go see a movie someone else wanted to see? What did we really lose in not seeing the movie of our choice?

When we meditate on all that God has given us in this world, we certainly can give others things they want, even when it means that we have to give up our desires. Furthermore, consider the wonderful things we have received from God in the spiritual world including Himself, bread that ends hunger and water that totally quenches our thirst forever. If God is so selfless as to give us so much, we can be selfless with one another and find joy in submitting to one another.

A selfless attitude is the way of heaven. You and I want our spirits to be focused on the joy of others and the joy of God as much as possible. Submitting to one another is the way we get ready for heaven’s society and culture.