It occurred to me the other day that our God is a God who loves celebration. He particularly loves it when His people recognise what He has done for them and choose to celebrate enthusiastically. It always seems a bit strange to me that a vast crowd of people can go wild and celebrate when a piece of leather in the shape of a ball is landed in the back of a net, and yet Christians who get excited about the Lord and all that He has done for them are called ‘fanatics’.
The other somewhat strange thing that has happened in our society is the ‘cult of celebrity’. The practice of calling someone a celebrity when really they have done nothing worth celebrating other than being successful in their chosen field, or achieving notoriety through some misdemeanor or other. They become celebrities while others, the real celebrities of life, like the care workers and peacemakers often go unnoticed.
A group of us were reading the book of Ruth together a while back, and it occurred to me that Ruth was just an ordinary person who chose, after great personal tragedy, to stay loyal to her mother-in-law. This caused her to leave her country, give up her chance of remarriage, and become the sole breadwinner for herself and an older woman in a land where, as a single woman, she was very vulnerable and potentially alone. Ruth 2:1-8.
We know the wonderful end to Ruth’s story; how she married Boaz and gave birth to Obed, David’s grandfather, and how she a Moabitess appears, (unusually for a woman), in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5. Ruth has been celebrated through the years as a great woman of God. Her story has been told and read over and over, but she was just an ordinary woman making some good choices, and doing the Godly thing in an unknown small village in the tiny country of Israel.
As we read this story, and I looked around the room, it occurred to me that all our stories will be told in heaven. Each one of us will be celebrated for what we have done, things seen and unseen, acknowledged and unacknowledged by the world. God sees and so do the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ that surround us Hebrews 12:1. I believe that there is celebration and cheering in heaven not just on the day when we turned to Jesus, Luke 15:7, but every time we bring glory to Jesus, by living from our New Life in Him, every time we choose His way, and allow the Holy Spirit to produce that beautiful Christ like fruit in our lives.
This then gives us reason to thank Him for every opportunity we get, like Ruth, to declare that we will choose His way, even when it seems tough, Ruth 1:16,17, and against what we would really like to do. It’s about His Lordship in our lives. Making Him Lord and not just Saviour makes us celebrities, those who are, and will be, celebrated in heaven.
Thanksgiving for this amazing truth can transform the most mundane and ordinary day into something special. It can make us aware of how important our day to day choices can be in terms of eternal values. Heavenly values are so different to those of this world, and it’s probably no mistake that Mother Theresa’s biography was called ‘Something Beautiful for God’. So let us thank Him every time we have an opportunity to do something that is ‘beautiful’, from heavens perspective, ourselves, and let us bring Jesus much glory everyday of our lives.