Okay…. Okay…. I have to admit that was a little bit of a bate title. I hate bate titles but I honestly just could not resist(haha). So if you just had a mini heart attack,or were picking up stones, do me a favor and take a breath!
Now that we are all settled let us get down to business!
I truly believe we need to revisit what the scriptures really say about Heaven and the fulfillment of all things. How we view the “afterlife” (I use this term very loosely) greatly pertains to how we view the character and nature of our great God! For so long I held to a very gnostic view of Heaven. Riddled with escapist mentality and abhorrence of the physical world. We sing songs about going to Heaven and escaping this planet as if it was some kind of Hell beyond the redemptive power of God. We ascribe to a view where God saves us from the physical world and then trashes all of creation because it is vile in His sight. We preach a gospel that treats heaven as some kind of train destination in the sky where we have to do whatever it takes to get a ticket so we can “get to heaven”. This view could not be more false. All creation is busting at the seams with the glory of the one true God! There is a New Creation literally bursting to life right here and now! That is the most beautiful truth of the gospel to me! That we were never made to go to God. He has always been coming to us! We are not going to Heaven, Heaven is coming(and has come) to us!
I would dare say that most of our thinking and views of Heaven are more based on the teachings of Hinduism, Buddha, Gnosticism, and Plato rather than the biblical narratives. Which is crazy! But we have taken these ideas and rebranded them as scriptural instead of what scripture actually says! These ideas are rooted in ambiguous poetry, pop culture, and bad cliches rather than raw biblical truth.
Ie.Heaven is some place up in the sky, not physical but “spiritual” (anti-matter), full of clouds and white landscape where we will exist as disembodied spirits.
Toss in some baby cherubs and lame harp music and you have the boring Heaven we see in movies, children’s books, and judgment houses! Have we let Hollywood shape our view of Heaven or are they just working with the material we as the church have given them? I would argue for the later. Our bad theology has made for bad art but, that is an whole other post in itself.
First off let us get it through our heads that creation is good! Do not ascribe to this false ideal that creation is inherently bad. It simply is not. God declared in the book of Genesis that creation was good. The cherubim in Isaiah’s visions of the throne room of God also support this idea, they sang Holy, Holy, Holy is Yahweh for the WHOLE EARTH is full of His glory!”. This should be our exuberant expression of worship rather than this pessimistic view of the world going to Hell in a hand basket that we hear so often from the pulpits of our Churches! To quote the Jesuit Priest Tellihard de la Chardin,
“We are watching the birth, more than the death, of the world.”
Christ did not come to establish an evacuation plan for those who would believe! He came and inaugurated a Kingdom that is going to encompass all of creation. That is the hope of the Gospel! That somehow Jesus is going to make ALL things new! From Genesis ch.3 to Revelation ch.20 we see the biblical narrative of redemption. The meta-story of all scripture is one of God drawing humanity into himself. Redemption of all the cosmos. He has been bringing bits and pieces of Heaven to us over and over throughout our history and in Christ we received the down payment, our very guarantee of the world to come, the Holy Spirit! His job is not to get us to Heaven but rather to reveal the fullness of Heaven in us and manifest that truth in the world around us! Christ is redeemer, restorer, and renewer of all things! We have never had the ability to go to Heaven and it has never been God’s heart to carry us to Heaven! For the Kingdom of God has come near!It is here and is at hand! Right under our noses!
Christ is not the escapist God we hear preached so often! His vision for the Kingdom of God is very earthly and the greatest part is that He has invited us to not only tag along but to get our hands dirty and be apart of the process of making the world new! We are not spend our days Idly awaiting His return, we are to spend our days in the trenches cultivating love and sowing seeds of righteousness in a world that craves redemption. A world that is our home, not in its present state of chaos, but this world engulfed in the shalom of God! The Age to Come will be one where “Heaven” and Earth are one in the fullness of God!
Then I saw a new Heaven(cosmos) and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
Through whom, to whom, and for whom all things exist!
Ps. This was more of an introduction to a very deep truth that I will be expounding on in the days ahead! So stay tuned!