25 May 2017
Today is Ascension Day. First and foremost, it is well-known that it commemorates the ascension of Jesus Christ from earth to heaven in the clouds. Less well-known is that it also commemorates the ascension of Christ’s church from earth to heaven in the Spirit.
In the letter to the Ephesian saints, Paul prayed that all baptized Christians would know “what is the immeasurable greatness of God’s power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Eph 1:16, 19-21)
Then he proclaimed that “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:4-7)
The first text focuses on the ascension of Christ and his coronation and enthronement. The second text focuses on the ascension of the church in Christ. The point is that all who are united to Christ by the Spirit have also ascended with Christ in the Spirit.
To be clear: there is an “already / not yet” aspect to our ascension with Christ. Spiritually, we have already ascended with him in the spirit and are already seated with him in the heavenly places. Physically, we have not yet ascended with him in the body — but we will do so. That is one reason why we look forward to the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
Until then, we baptized Christians, who are united to Christ the King, must learn to think, feel, and live as Ascended-in-Christ-people. As it is written in Colossians 3:1-5:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
The truth and reality of the heavenly ascension shapes our earthly life. Like Christ the King, we must become so heavenly minded that we may also become some earthly good.