Many who believe there is a heaven believe that it is a place of continual praise along side the angels before the throne of God. This place of heaven is to be the place of ultimate satisfaction and joy where no more tears, pain, or evil exists. However, in all reality, whose heart leaps at the idea of having an infinitely long church party before the Lord even if it is in such a place?
I love and adore the Lord and yet I have never gotten too overwhelmingly overjoyed at the thought of eternity in the heaven I typically hear described. For many years, I figured I simply would be satisfied because I would be before the Lord and what more could I want out of life than to be physically with Him with no division between us. I trusted that it was true that such an existence would be of the utmost glory and satisfaction beyond my wildest dreams.
I knew that all the good things of earth were a mere shadow of the glory of heaven and if the shadow could be so wonderful then the actual would be fantastical in comparison. Notwithstanding, I have come to realize that there is more to the story than I once thought.
God created mankind to live on earth and gave earth to man to have dominion and cultivate it. Man was designed to live in relationship with God on the earth ruling over all creation. (Genesis 1:26-29) So when man sinned and subjected the creation to the death and darkness of sin redemption was required to pay the debt of sin. So when this redemption is procured in Christ, it makes no sense for suddenly the lot of man is to die and go to heaven. Christ has been given the inheritance of all of creation and we are heirs with Christ to that creation. Why then would we not gain that inheritance, but gain life in heaven instead?
I think the following is more accurate: Life in heaven is available upon a person’s life merging with God’s through Jesus. We instantly have available to us a heavenly reality. This is why Jesus said in Matthew 6 that we are to pray for His Kingdom to come to earth and that the will of God in heaven will be made manifest upon the earth. God’s created earth was paradise and while paradise was lost it can be regained. God’s plan is far more expansive than having a bunch of people have a heavenly party with Him for eternity in heaven. His plan is for man to regain his rightful place to cultivate without laborious pain or effort the earth to be paradise once again.
Heaven is still a real place one can go and some I believe will live in heaven. Others will live upon the new earth and still others might come and go between the realms. I’m not sure of this, but I think it could be possible.
The last book of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle, magnificently captures this idea of a restored earth in his fictional story. The children find at last that Narnia was a shadow of an even greater reality and that even greater reality looked very much like Narnia, but only the good parts the most wonderful parts. This Narnia was purged of anything that could tarnish it and perfect goodness reigned free. Narnia came into alignment with the greater reality of heaven, so to speak. Such is God’s plan for this earth. It will one day become new and in line with the glory of heaven as it was always designed to be thus.
This will happen not by God waving His hand and making all the evil go away, but by man working in tandem with God by making manifest His truth in this world. The good news of the Gospel isn’t relegated to save and disciple people, but also for the discipling of nations. Just to clarify, I am not talking about politicizing the Gospel.
Each of us in this world have particular dreams and talents that we were born to live and those do not expire, they are useful for eternity. We each have a role to play and a plan that is uniquely ours that when used in tandem with God’s righteousness and in the context of community all things are possible. Just imagine an entire community of billions of people each empowered to do what they were born for free of entanglements of sin and the laborious pains of working for money. Each person would be working together as a harmonious body—each needing each other and each loving to work as a team full of the righteousness of God. I fully believe that such a world is not only possible, but will be made actual in the future.
This will be the fulfillment of our greatest dreams and desires as we live out what we were born for to the fullest measure and enjoy the company of others doing the same thing all the while experiencing the fullness of relationship with God all truly being in one accord.
When we hold to the theology that life is all about going to heaven when we die, we are very likely to abandon our job upon the earth. We are also very unlikely to realize and experience all that is available to us now for eternal life is Christ and we have the fullness of the Godhead living in us now. We don’t have to wait to experience the reality of heaven; we can start living that now. Many don’t because of our ignorance of its availability. Christianity is often seen as fire insurance and of no earthly value. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I wish I had known years ago what I have learned in the last 5 years, but it is so exciting to come to the knowledge that eternal life is here now and isn’t relegated to a future existence.
Learning how to live out that eternal reality is a moment to moment journey in Christ where we stay close to Him and learn from Him how to bring forth His truth in our lives. It is all about manifesting that internal truth to the external reality. We are all living in different stages of that process and we learn from each other and from Him how to live this life. While the Gospel is a simple truth, there is a vast creative expanse of knowledge and experience to explore in the