Last week, through tears, I looked at a crowd of women who will be friends forever. I may not see them each week, but I will think of them often on Thursday mornings, knowing they are together for Bible study. As I told them, it isn’t hard to go, it’s just hard to leave.
Life is supposed to move forward with new adventures, new friendships, and new directions from God. We have the opportunity to know a lot of people throughout our lives. Some we call friends and others acquaintances.
For all of us, there are people who will be friends forever.
Who are your forever friends?
The last lesson I taught was from Revelation 1 and 22. I love the book of Revelation, and it is the only book of the Bible that promises to bless the people who read it and “take [it] to heart” (Revelation 1:3 NIV). In other words, those who read the Revelation and “keep what is written in it” (v. 3 ESV) will have a blessed life now and eternally.
Revelation 22 redefines our idea of family. All of us have an earthly family that is precious to us, but we won’t define “family” the same way in heaven. Hopefully, all of our earthly family will be there, but realistically we know that isn’t always true.
Chapter 22 provides a picture of what our lives will be like in heaven and redefines family eternally. The Apostle John was imprisoned on the island of Patmos when Jesus came to him and told him to write these things down and to make them known to the churches. The angel provided this picture of heaven that we, the church, are to think about. Consider the words of Revelation 22:1–5, knowing they will be a blessing to you now and eternally:
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”
I pointed out these things to my class last week:
- The river of life flows from the “throne” of God and of the Lamb. The triune God, the Holy Trinity, is the source of everything in heaven. There is one throne, one Godhead, One to worship.
- The tree of life lives and thrives on both sides of the river and the leaves are for the healing of the nations. There will always be wars and divisions on earth. There will be none in heaven.
- Nothing is accursed in heaven. God cursed the land after the Fall and now there are plants like thorns and thistles. We live with storms, droughts, floods, and earthquakes. Our planet is not perfect and never will be. Heaven will be perfect because nothing eternal is “accursed.”
- Everyone in heaven will see the face of God. We will see the One we worship and dwell in his Presence. Every moment will be peace, contentment, health, joy, and love.
- His “name” will be written on our foreheads. His name, his character, will “mark” every person in heaven. We will be given that “new name” and we will all know we are forever the family of God.
The friends we will have forever are the friends we will call our family in heaven. We will have all of eternity to spend time with them, laugh with them, enjoy their stories, and share eternal joys with one another. Our earthly lives are the way we meet those people now who, someday, we will enjoy in heaven.
An earthly goal with eternal rewards
Jesus taught us how to live on earth so that our eternal life would be rich with reward. His life was our example to follow. Jesus gave his followers an important commandment. Jesus said:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:12–15).
God provided us our example, his own Son, so we can live our lives on earth with eternal goals. We can look at the life of Christ and know the life that God wants for us as well. When we study the words of Christ, we can’t ignore that God’s children are called to lay down their lives for friends too. In fact, we are commanded to live with that goal.
Each day we share the same earthly goal Christ had when he walked on this earth. Jesus came to help people know God and live eternally in heaven.
Love one another, as Jesus loved us
What is the best way to be like Christ and fulfill his commands?
We need to pray to be filled with the love of God so that we have his love for others. “Greater love” has no one until they are filled with the love of God.
We know what Jesus would do, and those thoughts provide his perspective for the people around us. Jesus didn’t call us “servants;” he called us friends. Jesus said, “I have made known to you all that I have heard from my Father.”
We know our goal in this life is to help people become our forever friends. Those people will not just be our friends in heaven; they will also be our family.
Whom do you love here on earth that needs to become your forever friend in heaven?
We have a higher goal than simply enjoying people’s friendships on earth. If we truly love them, we will want them to belong to our family, forever.
Take a moment and pray by name for those friends who still need salvation in Christ. Jesus will “make known” to you your next steps. He wants those people to be your forever friends too.