“Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
When you hear “heaven on earth,” what do you think of? Souls restored? Bodies healed? Wars and injustice cease?
Heaven on earth is all these and much more. But when I think of this powerful reality, I am drawn to one thing it is in particular. Heaven on earth looks like heaven’s relational culture being established among people.
The will of God is being done in heaven right now by the Persons of the Trinity. This holy community of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has a way of behaving that manifests the truth we all know: God is love. Heaven coming to earth means that we are drawn into and learn to live in heaven’s culture of love. We can see degree to which His kingdom has come in and through our lives by how perfect our love is—that is, the degree to which we have become mature and complete in our ability to love like God does.
Let’s remember four things Scripture tells us about what perfect, mature love looks like and how the relational culture of heaven works:
1) The Foundation: I Am Perfectly Loved
In two of the three passages in the New Testament that refer to perfect love, a common theme appears:
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us . . . Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another . . . We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:10-11, 19)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved . . . (Colossians 3:12)
The foundation for growing up in love is experiencing and coming to live in the reality that we are deeply, perfectly loved by our Father. And if our love is lacking in some way, this is the place we come back to. If we want to live in heaven’s relational culture, then we must be seeking an ever-deepening revelation and conviction of the reality of how He loves us.
2) Fear and Punishment Are Off the Table
It’s knowing that we know that we know that we’re unconditionally loved that kills the fear of punishment in our hearts:
This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:17-18 NIV)
Many of us hear this verse all the time, but how many of us have experienced a relational culture that is truly free of fear and punishment? How many of us can imagine a life without anxiety, much less believe that this is the reality in which we are made and called to live?
If love and fear are enemies, how will love win the war in our hearts? John gives us a key: “In this world we are like Jesus.” There are many implications to this promise, but one thing it means is that we have the same standing and access before the Father that Jesus has. Jesus wants us, His brothers and sisters, to grow up by entering into what He experiences in His relational culture with the Father—to see ourselves the way He sees us, hear what He says about us, and learn what He dreams for our lives.
3) Love Motivates Everything We Do
In religious cultures, people are motivated to do good by pride and the fear of punishment. They love rules because they give them a sense of control over other people and even God. Forgiveness and reconciliation are difficult and rare in these cultures because people who fail are perceived as unworthy of these things.
But in heaven’s relational culture, being and doing good is driven completely by love. The reason we avoid sin is not because we’re scared of being punished, but because we love ourselves and one another like our Father does. Forgiveness and reconciliation are ongoing practices, because people are seen as worthy of love no matter what they do:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14 NIV)
4) Love Stays on No Matter What
People who decide to turn their love off when they get scared aren’t necessarily evil, but they are immature. And the more they listen to fear, the more they will revert to the worst version of themselves.
Our Father wants us to be able to be the best version of ourselves no matter what. And Jesus clarified what that means:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48 NIV)
Jesus didn’t mention it at the time, but as Paul clarified later, the truth was that every member of the human race was an enemy of God when He sent His Son to us on a mission of reconciliation. God has never turned His love off toward us, and if we want to grow up and live in His relational culture, then we to learn to do the same for everyone He loves.
Knowing about these truths about the perfect love of God isn’t enough. We were made to live in the relational culture of heaven. May we be passionate about bringing heaven to earth by learning to love like God does.
P.S. Have you registered for one of our LOP Summits? We’re going to be going after what it looks like to bring heaven to earth in our relational cultures—in our relationships, families, and organizations. You won’t want to miss out! Get your tickets now!