(46) he ascended into heaven

Jesus’ ascension into the highest from the depths was the first instance of a new kind of being: creature style, but eternal in life. Others of the human race would soon be able to take on the beginnings of this higher life, with hope of entering eventually into its fullness. Christ had promised this to his followers and he still wants it for them. He is still alive, with all power, and I believe that he has kept and will continue to keep his promises. I have already received some first installments of his wonderful life. The rest will come to me in due time. But if it were not for my ascended Lord, I would not have any real basis for a reasonable hope of a life worth living after my death.

Deep within me, day by day, I feel the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus. It is as if I were caught up in a great heavenward current which was started by the ascension of Jesus. This upward-tending stream has ever since been raising the quality of human life. The full meaning of the ascension of the Lord is seen in the movement of God’s world toward the fulfillment of its Creator’s eternal purpose. All things in this world are meant to be gathered together somehow, someday, in the oneness of the Son of God’s glorified body, so that he may be all in all. All treasures that came into being in God’s great workshop of history must be saved, transformed, and put together like the pieces of a cosmic puzzle. Only then will the Lord’s resurrection and ascension be completed in a new heaven and a new earth. Anyone who ever shared in the new being of Christ will find place and meaning. After the harvest will come the feast. The full significance of Christ will appear when all that was part of him has finally been assembled together and glorified. We shall see all of him as he is, and we shall be like him. Beholding the lines of his restored creation, the Lord God will stretch out his arms to us all and cry out in joy to all before him, “My Son! My Son! Man!” The Christlike men of that new world will freely and willingly live for God and one another, moving together from glory to glory. Such is the hope which arises for us from Christ’s ascension.

If his ascension is so important, the church should make more of it. The Christ of past history will always be the basis of Christian teaching, of course. We cannot help but make a great deal of his birth, life, death, and resurrection. But we also need to maintain vividly our consciousness of the living Christ, the Christ of experience, the Christ of heaven, the Christ of the present and of the future. When we lose the ascended Christ, we lose our purpose, our strength, and our hope. Christmas and Easter have become so cluttered up by commercialism and worthless pagan garbage that these holy seasons have become next to useless for Christian purposes. But as yet no public splurge or busy rush occurs at Ascensiontide. The papers scarcely mention the ascension. Neither do the churches! Yet all the basic values of the incarnation and the resurrection are gathered up in the ascension. It contains the climax of everything we want to say about Jesus at those other seasons.