By Dr. Kevin Thomas —
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19b)
This verse seems to imply a strange truth. As rendered in English, it suggests that what we do on earth will somehow give shape to heaven. I must admit, that thought leaves me more than a little nervous. In my limited wisdom, I don’t want the power to alter what our perfect God has already designed in heaven.
The original language, Koine Greek, sheds important light on the passage. A rarely used tense completely changes the direction of the action. In the Greek, the future past perfect tense changes the wording to, “whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. We don’t have the authority to change heaven by earthly behaviors. Quite the contrary, we have authority from God to change earth to look like heaven. God grants us glimpses of the kingdom and calls us to replicate it in our time and place.
Perhaps as never before, the church needs to recover this calling! From violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, to violent threats between countries, peace seems to be a rare commodity. The Prince of Peace calls us to make a difference, to be the difference. In a world too often dominated by hatred, we live out a calling to love.
For far too long, the central question of Christianity was the afterlife. People got saved to get into heaven or stay out of hell, with little thought given to our years spent on the planet. May God open our eyes to see when hell is invading our communities. May God fill us with the Holy Spirit that we may bind up hatred and set love loose in this life!
May we faithfully follow Christ until it is in Tuscaloosa as it is in heaven!