It is a basic tenant of Christian theology that history is moving to a conclusion that will involve the removal of sin. Life will be enjoyed in a new heaven and new earth wherein dwelth righteousness. It is very important to keep this big idea in mind.
Dr. R. C. Sproul tells the story of a businessman who shared with him that in Japan, in the world of finances, goals are set that reach two hundred years into the future. The purpose of this far reaching planning is to have “the big idea” always in their mind. Then, the businessman asked Dr. Sproul, “What is the big idea of Christianity?” It is a good question.
When the Reformers crystalized their movement and what they were doing, Martin Luther spoke of the Christian life in terms of Coram Deo, “before the face of God.” All of life is to be lived in the presence of God. Sometimes Christians behave differently in the presence of an audience than they normally act. Sometimes Christians behave in secret in a manner they would be ashamed of if their behavior was made known. We see this principle in the story of The Prodigal Son who went away before he squandered his resources. He did not want others to witness his licentious lifestyle.
The Reformers said that all of life was to be lived in “Coram Deo”, meaning that all of life is to be lived in the presence of God. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee” (Psalm 139:7-12). Martin Luther said that Christians should not have a secret life, but have a consciousness of God from moment to moment.
To the idea of living before God, is to be added the twin concepts of living under the authority of God, and to live for the glory of God. “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). “If ye love me, keep my commandment” (John 14:15). So many problems in life would be eliminated if Christians were conscious, moment by moment, of the principle of Coram Deo. Humans act differently when they know someone who is Holy and Righteous is watching.
It is not easy to live such a meaningful and spiritual life. Nevertheless, the bent of the heart must be towards a life of devotion to God. Paul understood this, and pleaded with the church to live a holy life. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).
A life of holiness, a life of dedication, a life of practicing the presence of God, is pleasing to the Lord. God wants every believer to press forward through those times we are paralyzed and frustrated in our spiritual growth. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Phil. 3:13).
In life, we tend to be excited about living the Christian life, until we are tested, and then we stop. When this is done, we stop short of a divine blessing. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12).
If there is to be any growth in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, we must have an objective. That objective is provided by Christ. It is reaffirmed by the apostles. It is renewed by the Reformers. The goal of the Christian life is “Coram Deo.” Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).
Jesus went on to teach that those who enter into the kingdom of God must take the kingdom by violence, just as a military commander will storm an objective. Christians must not be casual, or cavalier about the Christian life, but press into it. “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16).
There is good reason to storm the heavenly bastille, and that is because of the great value of the kingdom. The kingdom of God is so valuable, it is likened to a pearl of great price. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matt. 13:45).
The kingdom of God is precious. The kingdom is so precious, it is likened to a shepherd who seeks after a lost sheep. “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:4-7).
The kingdom of God is important. The kingdom is so important that it is likened to a lady seeking for a lost coin, everything will be done to find it. “Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:8-10).
The parables of Jesus often speak of the kingdom of God, thereby teaching how much it is esteemed. The kingdom of God is worth pressing into. It is worth taking by violence. It is worth every diligent search. It is worth selling everything in order to obtain it. The goal of the kingdom of God must never be moved downward. There must be a break-through of those periods of spiritual paralysis and plateaus.
Fix this truth in your heart. What pleases God is someone who prays every day, “Thy kingdom come.” The seeking of the kingdom of God is not something unbelievers do, but it must be the chief business of Christians.
While the King is away, the Lord seeks those who want to be loyal to Him in His absence, to honor Him, to please Him, and to seek after Him. That is the goal of the life of the Christian.