A few weeks ago, my husband and I were doing a series of errands. After one stop, we returned to our car, and Ken started the engine. It didn’t take long for me to realize that we were driving in circles. When I commented, Ken explained that he didn’t know where we were going next, but what he said was this: “When you don’t know where you’re going, your direction doesn’t matter.” Although I quickly corrected Ken’s confusion so that we could complete our errands, the powerful truth he expressed has stayed with me.
The fact of the matter is that direction and destination are linked. If you neither know nor care where you’re going, then any direction will do. But if you have a particular destination in mind, your direction matters a great deal.
And so it is in our spiritual lives. We, as believers, have a destination: heaven, where we will enjoy eternal relationship with the God of the universe and other saints. In order to arrive at that destination, we need to be aware of the direction we are going.
Please do not misunderstand me. Our place in heaven has been secured by the work of Christ on our behalf. We need not—cannot—earn it. But we do have responsibility as we live in a covenant relationship with our Lord. In the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he exhorts his readers to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, noting that it is God who is at work in them, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:12).
Although I have always found this passage to be puzzling, it highlights an essential mystery of the Christian faith. The Holy Spirit works in us and through us as we abide in Christ. Once we commit to Christ by faith and through His grace receive the Holy Spirit, we begin our part—to partake of the nature of Christ (Heb. 3:14) and participate in His kingdom’s work.
As we walk on this side of the kingdom toward our eternal destination, it matters what direction we travel. The Bible makes this abundantly clear. The Apostle Paul exhorts his Ephesian readers to put aside all anger, bitterness, and malice and to extend kindness and forgiveness to one another. The Apostle John is well known for his “love one another” exhortations. The Apostle Peter makes an even stronger case, urging his readers to fervently love one another and to offer hospitality and service to one another (I Pet. 4:8). The author of Hebrews instructs his readers to encourage one another (Heb. 10:24). James has much to say in his epistle about relationships among those who are on their way to heaven.
Please notice with me that the way we partake in the nature of Christ and participate in His work is not necessarily by becoming a professional missionary, singing in the choir, or serving on a church committee. It is rather by learning to appreciate, love, encourage, and serve one another that we experience and reflect glimpses of heaven.
C.S. Lewis emphasized in his writing that it is not so much what we do as who we are and who we are becoming that is of spiritual significance. As we turn our faces toward our heavenly destination, may we remain mindful of the direction of our hearts and love our Lord and others with all that we are and all that we have.
“If you board the wrong train, it’s no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer