As it is in Heaven
J. R. Miller
"May Your will be done on earth—as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:10
"As it is in heaven" is the standard which the Lord's Prayer sets for us—in doing God's will on earth. It is a high ideal, and yet it cannot be no lower. The petition is a prayer that heaven may begin in our hearts here on the earth.
When a child was looking thoughtfully up into the depths of an evening sky, and wondering how one could get to heaven, as it seemed so far away and he could see no ladder, he was told by his wise mother, "Heaven must first come down into your heart." We must not forget this. We can never enter heaven—until heaven has entered into us. We must have the life of God in us—before we are ready to dwell in blessedness with God.
We forget that heaven is not far off yonder—but begins right here in our everyday lives, if it is ever to begin at all for us! Isn't that what the prayer means, "May Your will be done on earth—as it is in heaven"? "On earth," that is—in our shops, and our drudgery, and care; in our times of temptation and sorrow. It is not a prayer to be taken away out of this world into 'heaven', to begin there the doing of God's will; it is a prayer that right here and now on earth—we may learn to live—as they do in heaven.
How do they live in heaven? There all wills are in perfect accord with the divine will. We begin our Christian lives on earth, with hearts and wills much attune to our old nature. Naturally we want our own way—not God's. The beginning of the new life—is the acceptance of Christ as our King. But not at once, does the kingdom in us become fully His. It has to be subdued. Christian growth is simply—the bringing of our wills into perfect accord with God's. It is learning to do always the things that please God.
"Our wills are ours." But this is only half the truth. They are ours to give to God, to yield to His will. This is the whole work of Christian growth, of spiritual culture. We begin making our wills God's—when we first begin to follow Christ. But it takes all life to make the surrender complete. But taught of God, and helped by the divine Spirit—we come every day a little nearer doing God's will on earth—as it is done in heaven—if we are faithful.
"May Your will be done on earth." That means obedience, not partial—but full and complete obedience. It is taking the Word of God into our heart, and conforming our whole lives to it. It is accepting God's way always—sweetly and submissively—with love and faith.
The divine law is summed up in one word—LOVE. "You shall love." God is love. "As it is in heaven" means love shining out in a pure, beautiful, holy life. "May Your will be done on earth" means, therefore, love. All the lessons may be gathered into one—learning to love. Loving God is first. Then loving God begets in us—love to all men.
Do we understand what love is? Don't we usually think only of its earthly side? We like to be loved, that is, to have other people love us and live for us, and do things for us. We like the gratifications of love. But that is only miserable selfishness, if it goes no further. It is a desecration of the sacred name of love—to think that, at its heart, it means only getting, receiving. No, love GIVES. Getting is earthly; "as it is in heaven" is giving. That is what God's love does—it finds its blessedness in giving. "God so loved the world—that He GAVE His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). That is what Christ's love does—it pours out its very life-blood, to the last drop. The essential meaning of love must always be giving, not receiving.
Perhaps our thought of the blessings of heaven, is often a selfish one—that it will be all enjoyment, all receiving. But even heaven will not be an eternity of self-gratification, or only the bliss of receiving. Even there, especially there, where all imperfections will be left behind—love must find its supreme blessedness in giving, in serving others, in pouring out into other lives. There it will forever be more blessed to give than to receive, to serve rather than to be served.
"On earth as it is in heaven" means therefore not merely the gratification of being loved—but the blessedness of loving others and giving out the richest and best of one's life for others. Sometimes we hear people sighing to have friends, to be loved. This is natural. We all hunger for love. But this craving may become unwholesome, even miserably morbid. A great deal more wholesome, is the desire to give love, to be a blessing to others, to pour out the heart in refreshing other weary hearts.
It is God's will that we should love; it may not always be God's will that we should be loved. It seems to be the mission of some in this world—to give and not receive. They are to shine in the darkness, burning up their own lives as the lamp burns oil—to be light to other souls. They are called to serve, to minister, to wear out their lives in giving light, comfort, and help to others—while none come to minister to them, to pour love's sweetness into their hearts, and to give them the daily bread of affection, cheer, and help.
In many homes we find such lives—a patient wife and mother; or a gentle, unselfish sister—-blessing, caring for, serving, giving perpetually love's richest gifts; themselves meanwhile unloved, unserved, unrecognized, and unhelped. We are apt to pity such people—but couldn't it be, that they are nearer the heavenly ideal of doing God's will—than are some of those who sit in the sunshine of love, receiving, ministered unto—but not giving or serving?
Was it not so with our Lord Himself? He loved and gave and blessed many, at last giving His very life—but few came to give Him blessing and the encouragement of love in His own soul. It is more divine to love—than to be loved. At least, God's will for us is that we should love, pouring out our hearts' richest treasures upon others—not asking meanwhile for any return. Loving is its own best return and reward.
Thus "as it is in heaven" always shines before us, as the ideal of our earthly lives. It is not a vague, shadowy ideal, for it is simply the complete doing of God's will. Perfect obedience is heaven. Sometimes it is serving others; sometimes it is quiet, patient suffering, or passive waiting. The one great lesson to be learned—is perfect accord with the will of God for us every moment, whatever that will may be.
"As it is in heaven" may seem far above us today. We say that the song is too melodious, for our unmusical voices to sing. We say that the life is too ideal for us, with our little faith.
But if only we are true to our Father's will; if only we keep our hearts always open to the love of Christ; and to the help and sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit—we shall rise day by day toward heaven's perfection, until at last we shall enter the gates of peace and be with Christ and be like Him! For the present, our effort and our prayer should continually be: "May Your will be done on earth—in us—as it is done in heaven."