One of the largest theological shifts that I have undergone is how I view heaven. For many years, I viewed heaven as place that comes after “now”. It’s somewhere off in the future. When I die, or when Jesus blows His trumpet, I’ll leave this place (which isn’t good) and will find myself in heaven.
Over the course of the past few years, I’ve begun to shift in my thinking of heaven. Leaving behind the idea that it’s just a “after now” place. I’ve become more and more cognizant that when Jesus talks about the Kingdom of Heaven, He isn’t referring to something in the distant future. Rather, He is talking about here and now and there and not yet.
I’ve been waiting for a volume that would help me solidify this theological shift, and that would provide me with a resource to recommend to people who are in a similar place. After reading the forthcoming (due out on 5 May 2015) volume from Josh Ross and Jonathan Storment called Bringing Heaven to Earth, I believe that I have found that resource.
Ross and Storment present a strong and beautiful argument for the idea that heaven is here and now. Using the foundation of Scripture and supported by the tradition of the church, they show that while heaven is a fulfilled reality when “God calls us home” it is also a reality to be lived out between now and then.
Jesus came to give us new life—now. Our live is to be wrapped up in living with God—now. We yearn and long for a time when all is perfect and complete, yet we can’t just sit and wait for it. We are called to bring it into the reality of life now.
God’s great plan isn’t to burn up the creation that He called “very good.” Rather, His plan is redeem and restore and recreate it. His plan is to return it to the state of “very good.” And, He calls us—you and me—to live lives that help to restore and redeem and renew.
Ross and Storment say it this way:
The ultimate Christian hope is not to fly off as disembodied beings to another place. Our hope is that God is going to redeem and restore the world, and you and me along with it.
We live to introduce the world to a new way—a new Kingdom. We live our lives in a way that people see that we’re not a part of the systems of the world. Rather, we have a new—renewed—identity, and a new citizenship. Our citizenship, as the Apostle Paul says, is not of this world. It is beyond. And, while God’s Kingdom is not complete—the world still needs an immense amount of redeeming—it is coming.
Slowly by slowly.
Step by step.
Person by person.
And, it’s not an elite Kingdom to which only a few are invited. No! It is open to all. And, with each accepted invitation to the Kingdom, it grows. A little bit more of the world is redeemed.
With every orphan who finds a home—the Kingdom comes.
With every rundown house that is rebuilt—the Kingdom comes.
With every hungry mouth that is fed—the Kingdom comes.
With every beautiful painting painted—the Kingdom comes.
With every saint who passes on and realizes the fullness of being with God—the Kingdom comes.
And where the Kingdom is, we find heaven. For “heaven,” Ross and Storment tell us, “is where things are as God intends.”
Jesus singled out every category of person that had been shunned by the elite of society, including the religious leaders and experts in the Law. In doing so, Jesus there open the doors of God’s Kingdom as wide as possible. Everyone, everywhere, is invited into God’s Kingdom.
And, with each accepted invitation is accepted, a little more Heaven comes to Earth.
FTC (16 CFR, Part 255) Disclaimer: I received my copy of Josh Ross and Jonathan Storment’s book Bringing Heaven to Earth from Blogging for Books for this review.
|Bringing Heaven to Earth: You Don’t Have to Wait for Eternity to Live the Good News
By Josh Ross & Jonathan Storment / WaterBrook PressMuch has been written about our future eternal home. But what if Jesus is more interested in bringing heaven to earth rather than the other way around? Offering a corrective to the church’s emphasis on the afterlife, Ross and Storment call us to work for God’s kingdom by overcoming injustice, poverty, lack of opportunity, and more. 224 pages, softcover from Waterbrook.