What a contrast! This past week Jacqui and I have been exchanging photos and videos with our daughters – and the difference between the two flows could hardly have been greater.
We would send images of blue skies, bright sunshine and usually a swimming pool; they would send photos of growing snowpeople (they were of both genders), sleigh rides and snowball fights.
For me the strangest was sitting in Café Charlotte on the waterfront (using their wifi) in 27 degree sunshine, watching the blizzard dumping snow in Gore Drive from Deb’s lounge, some 2000 miles north from where we were in Tenerife!
I continue to be amazed at the wonder of modern communications, especially with the very recent development smartphones and tablet computers. W can now use email and especially Skype in the remotest of locations with the greatest of ease.
And the result? You can be in two worlds at once. At times it felt quite bizarre. Is that really snow in our front garden?
And yet living in two worlds is at the heart of the Christian faith, and again the contrast between them could not be greater.
Certainly this was John’s experience as he found himself bound in exile in Patmos. “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven.” He shares what he sees through this open door in Revelation, the final book of the New Testament. It is as if John takes his iPad and shows us a live video stream of what is taking place in heaven.
And again, the contrast could not be greater. Here sadness with much suffering, and worse for John, humiliation for being a disciple of Jesus; there the Lamb, his Jesus, is enthroned in glory. In heaven God is wonderfully in control: he draws the highest praise of the entire created order. John sees a place of breathtaking beauty and satisfying Shalom.
For the message of Revelation is that things are not as they seem, great news to suffering Christians. And the choice is ours is where to focus our gaze. To focus on heaven is to engender hope and stiffen resolve.
So Paul writes to the Corinthians. “There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
And it can be a battle, how we choose to see.
However, our ultimate hope, as expressed in the Lord’s prayer, is that these two worlds become one, when God’s will is done not just in heaven but also here on earth. And this hope gives us the confidence and resolve to work for that day when God’s kingdom finally and wonderfully comes in glory.
So hold on to this vision!