Riley Wilson opened his eyes to a most breath taking sight. There before him, standing at the gates to a very large and beautiful walled city, was the most majestic person he had ever seen, reaching out and beaconing him to approach.
"Well done, good and faithful servant!" he said, "Come you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world."
And as Riley came forward he was embraced by his Lord, given new garments to wear, garments that were impossibly bright and clean, and then led through the gates and into the city.
The first thing Riley noticed upon entering the city was that everything was very bright and cheerful. The city was well lit although there was no apparent source; it was just light everywhere without a single visible shadow. And the city was full of sound, not the oftentimes loud and overpowering noise of an earthly city, but the sounds of music and praise; it was a joyful sound. The atmosphere of the city was welcoming and drew him in.
All around him were people busily engaged in one activity or another. The purpose of their activity was not readily obvious at first, nor, initially, were any of the people known to him. But as he watched them he became aware that somehow he knew each one of them, although he was sure he had never met any of them before. And it was not just the casual acquaintance one might share with a friend, but he actually seemed to share a bond with them that exceeded anything he had ever experienced before; he really knew them. It was as if they were each somehow connected together.
And as he watched the activities they were engaged in he slowly came to realize that though they were many and varied, seemingly conducted in a random fashion, they were actually highly related and coordinated. It was as if a single mind was directing each of these activities toward a common purpose. No one got into anyone else's way, there was no competing for space, time or resources, no voice of dissent or anger; everything just flowed together in harmony.
As he watched he became aware that he was not alone; Jesus stood beside him, waiting patiently as Riley took in his surroundings. Finally he turned to Jesus with a look of wonder, and asked who all these people were, how he knew them all and what it was they were doing.
"This city that you are now in is the capital from which I rule," he replied, "and those who live here are the redeemed who rule and serve along side me. This city, in a sense, is also my bride, made up of the ones I have given my life for and who have in turn submitted themselves to me. And you are each greatly loved.
"You know them all because you have become one with them, they should be as familiar to you as your own self; there is nothing about them hidden from you, or of you that is hidden from any of them. You all are a part of one body, this city, my bride, and so all of you know each other and depend on each other to carry out your task."
"But how can we be one when we seem to be so many? How can we be this city that we are in?"
"Look at this city. Do you see all of the individual parts that make it up, the gates, walls, streets, buildings, and the people? Each part appears somewhat unique and individual. But it is only when they are joined together and functioning, each in their own way, that the city is truly alive and serving its purpose. These people you see in this city, yourself included, actually are the city. You each have a unique and specific role to fulfill, one that your life on earth has prepared you for. The short time you spent there, although it seemed long to you, served to prepare you for this time, a time that will never end."
"But what are you ruling over? And what help could we possible offer to you?"
"My Father's kingdom is immense and contains many other lesser cities and peoples. You all, as my bride, are laboring alongside of me, for the effective working of the kingdom. The task you perform as a part of this city will reach out into the rest of the kingdom, to care for it, to prosper it, to make it ever more wonderful, and to rule over it."
"And so Riley, dearly beloved, come into the service of the bride in the kingdom of my Father, ruling alongside of me. May your service be blessed, fruitful and rewarding throughout all of eternity!"