Here’s a thought that struck me the other day. You may have heard this passage from the bible where, immediately prior to Christ’s death and resurrection, He was trying to console His disciples regarding His departure. (They were a bit freaked out of course because His gruesome death on a cross was not what they thought they signed up for):
“Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions (dwelling places): if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you…” John 14:1-2
So what stood out to me after reading this was this concept that Christ needed to prepare a place for us. Really? What type of preparation is Jesus talking about? Didn’t God and Jesus have this figured out already? Didn’t He anticipate that He was going to need someplace for all of these saved souls to abide? And, is He not able to just wave His hand and voila! Done? What is He talking about? I mean, even though Jesus was a builder by trade, I don’t see Him strapping on the old tool belt and adding on a few rooms and a bath onto His Father’s heavenly crib for a few billion of His BFFs. Right?
So, since Jesus always meets people where they are, let’s consider the audience. As a builder on earth, it would not be a stretch for His followers to imagine Him making arrangements for their eternal abode. It’s something we simple humans can get our heads around. (Remember He is trying to console His friends and family.) And in His divine genius and compassion He understands our worries and concerns and wants to put them at ease. After doing a little reading I also now understand the message a bit better.
First of all, never limit God’s capabilities. Regardless of the number of us, there will be ample ‘room’ for everyone because everyone is invited, and like any good party planner, God has planned for the possibility of us all showing up. What Jesus is addressing is this inherent human concern about making sure we have a reservation, a spot just for us, and that we won’t be shut out. Get that out of your head. It’s God, He’s done the math. They’re not going to stop the line at 8:00 PM and send you back to the parking lot.
Secondly, Jesus is assuring us that we will be totally welcomed. Not so much like a last minute addition to the Thanksgiving table, where you might be sitting at the kid’s table on a metal folding chair; On the contrary, welcomed as a sibling to Christ and child to God the Father Himself; And not in some room over the garage or detached casita, but right in the Main House where the Big Man lives, with the very strong probability of running into G while grabbing a late night snack! (There’s an image.) This welcoming message also conjures up for most of us, childhood memories of being safe and secure and warm and fuzzy in our parent’s home; A time and place where the everyday challenges, temptations and struggles of our earthly adult life were unknown…Home.
Third, His preparation includes serving as our point man and spokesperson. He is personally making us right with the owner of the House. He is settling any open tabs and clearing all debts. He is making a straight way for us. And, He is not only doing that at the destination point, but He is doing it right here, through the Holy Spirit, right now within each of us. This reminds me of a term in the construction industry: ‘built to suit’. It means that a landlord or contractor builds a custom space or building to meet the exact specifications of a very particular tenant. The LL works closely with the tenant to make sure that all of the unique circumstances are addressed so that the tenant and space are prepared to provide the optimal occupancy experience. It is an arrangement that requires participation from all parties. So apparently as tenants, we also need to be properly prepared, if we are to make this all work as intended:
…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (with the knowledge that it is) God working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Phil. 2:12-13
It also came to me that this would not be the first time that a place has been prepared for us to commune with God. And, that there were some very specific preparations made in the beginning, over a period of six days (or millennia, eons, eternities). A place we called Eden here on earth, and I think very similar to our next address in Heaven, simply because it was where we and God dwelt for a time. And although that may not have worked out so well the first time, God’s not a quitter and His love and desire for us as co-habitants is relentless. In fact, these last two points have me thinking that if the preparation is more in terms of us rather then in our destination, we might be in store for a quick spin around the block and wind up right back here on earth, but this time earth as a New Eden. Indeed, what else would be needed if we all came off the bus ‘clothed in Christ’?
So the bottom line in my mind is that our Heavenly Father and His Son are ever busy. Always working, always figuring out what each and every single one of us are going to need to feel absolutely ‘at home’ in our true Home. Cool, huh? But remember, like most construction projects, I would leave a few weeks in the schedule for potential ‘special circumstances’. 🙂