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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Heaven. On Earth.

Often times i find myself thinking about death and leaving this world that is not my home.  i think of walking through the pearly white gates, seeing the streets of gold, and singing praise to my Lord and Savior-in his company.  It is such a beautiful picture.  Revelation 21:1-6 are the verses that i cling to for these promises:
1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.

This is such a beautiful picture.  It almost brings tears to my eye.  Thinking of the day where all is made new.  Where pain is non-existent and where crying has no place.  Where God Himself reaches out His holy hand to wipe the tears from my eye.  A place where God, my Father, holds me, loves me, and embraces me.  A place where there is no more death nor mourning.  A place that is new.    Just imagine that day.

The idea of longing for that day to come is also seen in Philippians 1:21 where Paul talks about how good it will be to die and be immediately with God.  It is also preached in time after time in church.  Sermons often go along the lines of  " Yes, we suffer here on earth.  Yes, sinners make our life difficult here.  Yes, it hurts sometimes to be here. But just wait for that day!  Where the tables turn and it is us who go to Paradise while the wicked get what is deserved: Gods wrath. "  I can not tell you how many times i have heard something like that! 

This past month ,though, i have realized something about my type of thinking and the thinking of individuals and churches who think in that way.  We are missing the point.  That plain and simple.  And that has gotten me thinking... for how long have we been doing this?   Missing the big picture.

And like i said, i am guilty of this as well, if not the most guilty of it!  So then, what is the point that we are missing?  What is this "picture" that we are overlooking when we think about--and live for-- the end?  The answer is found in the fact that God did not create us to die.  It seems obvious, of course, but it has some profound truth to it.  The way that we preach it now puts it this way:
              
God created man for fellowship with Him.  This was broken in the garden thus breaking that fellowship.  This paved the way for the age of law-- man doing things to restore the fellowship.  After that God saw that it was not working and sent His son as the ultimate sacrifice.  This is now how we get our fellowship with Him, but it is not until we die, and then go to heaven, that we will truly have fellowship with Him.  In other words our life comes after death. 
This is how the modern church seems to be preaching the Gospel.  Living with the end in mind.  Now let me say, this idea is not necessarily false-- but i believe it is missing a very important fact:  we have life now in the person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus did not want us to wait to receive eternal life!  No, eternal life starts upon the moment one believes.  This "life" that we talk about after death is only a small portion of the picture.  Jesus came so that we may have life--and life now. here on earth. before we die. apart from heaven, but in Christ. 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full"
John 10:10b

 As we see in the Lord's prayer God wants His will to be the same on earth as it is in heaven-- He wants us to have the same life here on earth that we will in heaven.  Heaven on earth in a sense.

"Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever"

The whole prayer is about God bringing heaven to earth.  now. before death.  God is always and constantly completing the good work He started in us (Phil. 1:6) and this good work is conforming us into the image of Christ (Romans 8:28.)  When we see this we realize that everything is working together for this-- as i have mentioned in other posts-- and that even God's wrath has a purpose:to push us into the right direction, to melt the imperfections, to separate the corruptible from the eternal.  Lastly as we read Philippians 1:21 and the surrounding text we see that yes, Paul wishes to go to heaven and be with Christ but he sees being here on earth as more beneficial.  This is it.  This is the big picture.

Yes, God uses great images of heaven to motivate us but that is not to distract us from the task at hand: having fellowship with Christ here. now. on this earth.  Striving to be like Christ here.now. on this earth.  Doing good works here. now. on this earth.  Striving to make earth a place that fears God here. now. on this earth.  Let there be heaven, on earth. Amen.

3 comments:

  1. Great post. God put us here on this earth for a purpose - To love one another and to spread the good news. God bless you.

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  2. Hi Daniel, your blog has been listed at www.youngchristianbloggers.blogspot.com :)

    ReplyDelete