When it comes to Heaven, I’m a both/and kind of guy. By that I mean that it’s both a place to go when we die, and something we can help usher in here, now, today. How so, you say? In this way:
If we are in Jesus, we are his ambassadors–representives of the Kingdom of Heaven. We are called to make both a better here–and hereafter. As it says in James chapter one, “Pure religion, and undefiled, in the sight of God the Father is visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” Jesus says, bluntly, that to have done it unto the least of these is to have done it unto him.
That is bringing heaven to earth.
Meeting the needs we’ve been equipped to meet, putting ourselves out there, sacrificing. That’s what Jesus did, and we are to go and do likewise.
Be that as it may, Heaven I believe is also a place. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, walked with God, and was taken. Was he taken to Hell? I don’t think so. Elijah likewise was taken up in a chariot. Lazarus was consoled at Abraham’s bosom.
Jesus told the thief “This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” And forty days after his resurrection, Christ himself ascended to somewhere outside of our space/time continuum. Not to mention the fact he told his disciples, and by extension us, that he went to prepare a place.
That where he was we would be also.
Moreover, the Apostle Paul (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) wrote of a man caught up to the third heaven, seeing things it wasn’t lawful to convey. Beyond that, there’s the entirety of the Book of Revelation, with its descriptions of streets of gold, gates of pearl…
But far more meaningful to me is the passage which tells us that God shall wipe every tear from our eyes, that death shall be no more.
Which we most emphatically do not see here and now.
While we should indeed do all that we can to make this earth more like heaven now, the Scriptures plainly state that heaven–the place Jesus ascended to, without death, where his Father is–is coming to earth someday.
God will make all things new.
Will you join me in shouting “Hallelujah?”
So let’s do both, shall we? Inaugurate God’s kingdom here and now, and bring as many with us as we can when we go?
What do you say?