My dear wife spent May 21, that day Harold Camping predicted the end of the world, in the hospital fighting leukemia. Though the war is not yet over, just as she has done twice before, she has cancer on the ropes. And, in case you missed it, the world did not end May 21. The confluence of these two events, however, has, as they might for anyone, encouraged me to think about my end. Bucket lists, “what would you do if you knew this were the last day of your life,” and the pearly gates have been on my mind. Whether we are goaded by this nugget of pop wisdom or that, whether we wake up determined to live this day as if it were our last, or determined to live mindful that today is the first day of the rest of our lives, the question is the same- what am I supposed to do? Whichever the perspective, the answer is likewise the same- seek the kingdom and His righteousness; love better the Lord God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength; grow in grace and wisdom; become more like Jesus.
My calling, your calling, whatever the future holds, is to pursue sanctification, that we would be more like Jesus. Which may seem like something of a waste. I once had a man ask me a series of questions that led to his one real question. “Isn’t it true,” he asked, “that all of us, when we become Christians, start at different places in our sanctification?” “Yes, that’s true.” “And isn’t it also true that while we will all grow in grace, we will all grow at different speeds?” “Right again” I told him. “None of us will ever be fully sanctified before we die, right?” “Uh-huh, that’s right.” “”And we will all be completely sanctified when we die?” “True enough” I told him. “Okay, given all that, what is the point in seeking to become more sanctified now?”
Makes sense, doesn’t it? Paul describes our sanctification as a race. But it’s a race with different starting points, different speeds, in which none of the contestants will finish on this side of the veil and all will finish on the other. Why knock yourself out? I answered his questions with two of my own, “Are you looking forward to heaven?” “Of course,” he replied. “Would you like to have more now?” He got it; he understood. If one of the most precious promises of heaven is that we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is (I John 3:2), doesn’t that mean that the more like Him we become now the more heaven we experience now?
Every day I get a one day closer to heaven. This is true, of course, because each day I draw one day closer to my death. But it is also true because each day I draw one day closer to my life. The distinction between glorification and sanctification has its place. So, however, does the identification of the two. Being made perfect at death is not a different thing from being perfected during life. We therefore each day not only get closer to heaven , but we get more heaven each day. We move from grace to grace. Can’t wait for tomorrow.