This is a guest post from Brian Ng'ong'a - a guest blogger coming all the way from Nairobi, Kenya. There Brian works with the Coptic Hope Center for Infectious Diseases - which deals with HIV and other infectious diseases in a country where it is desperately needed. You can follow him on Facebook for more info. And if you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
“I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)
Growing up just like any other child, I used to be over the moon at the thought of Christmas or Easter being around the corner. You could just feel the excitement walking around in the streets.
Those who were lucky enough to come from a blessed family would be thinking of what gifts they were expecting that year. Those who came from a poor background would also count their blessings because they would at least get to enjoy that special holiday meal with their loved ones. Even the homeless had something to celebrate because they would have generous groups of people coming to visit them, usually carrying food.
Excitement filled the air!
The excitement was still there when I became an adult - even though the reasons for celebrating them were different. But the question I found myself asking when celebrating the birth, the death, and the resurrection of Christ was this:
Does it end there? Is that it? Does the excitement of being a follower of the most important Person to have ever walked this planet end there? Or is there more?
It came to my realization that for a long time, my Christian life was pretty much summed up in a 4 month span:
January – receive Christ as the new born King (we Orthodox celebrate Christmas on January 7, not December 25) February/March – walk with Christ through His ministry (Lenten season) April (sometimes May) – share His pain and sufferings (Holy Week) and celebrate His resurrection (Easter)
And then…….that’s pretty much it till the following January. Or so I thought.
I understand why I recognize His birth – He was the coming Messiah, my Liberator as mentioned in the prophets. That’s a big deal.
I understand why I recognize His passion and death on the cross – because He suffered and died for my sins. That’s also a big deal.
I understand why I recognize His resurrection – He overcame death and trampled Satan underfoot. Hence I am a new creature – another REALLY big deal.
Then we get to what happened after His resurrection. What’s the next major event in the life of Christ? It’s His ascension into heaven (see Luke 24:50-53).
My understanding of His ascension wasn’t very profound. I didn’t get it. The job was already done. Christ had come and fulfilled His Father’s will. The good guys had won and everything seemed to be done now. I didn’t see why the ascension was that big a deal.
“That must be the reason why it falls on a Thursday and is not even recognized as a universal holiday,” I’d tell myself.
SO WHAT DOES CHRIST'S ASCENSION REALLY MEAN TO ME?
“…In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Christ knew that after His ascension, things were going to be tough for those who believe in Him. In other words, it’s not over for us, not by a long shot. Be that as it may, He promised us good stuff by encouraging us to look at the big picture.
A) His ascension to heaven means that He has gone to prepare a place for us, “For our citizenship is in heaven…” (Philippians 3:20). It means that regardless of the tribulations we face in this world, we take comfort in knowing that they are nothing compared to the glory we are going to receive in heaven.
B) We need to embrace the spirit of a traveler or sojourner. That means that there are things which we are required to carry on our journey, but also it means there are things which will not be allowed to pass through customs. They must remain behind. Such things will ruin the chances of us getting to our preferred destination. See Colossians 3:5, 8.
C) We are required to “set our minds on things above” (Colossians 3:2). It is important to note that Christ did not leave us to guess what these things are, but He wrote them for us.
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering… But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-15)
D) The best part about His ascension is this: WE ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS LIFE.
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18)
So there. Now I’m excited. I never realized how important and meaningful Christ’s ascension is. But now I do. And I hope that you do too.
For discussion: what are some other reasons that we should rejoice in Christ’s ascension to heaven?