An blue icon with a graduation cap and tassel.

An blue icon with a graduation cap and tassel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eve came from Adam’s rib; Adam came from the earth; and the earth came from God. Through marriage, Eve reunites, or goes back, to Adam, her origin.

Jesus also said that he came from the Father and would go back to the Father. As first-fruit, he’s the first of multitudes to follow. The Christian faith came from Jews and spread to Gentiles. And through unity in Christ, mankind goes back to God, our origin. He invented marriage to foreshadow this glory.

Mankind is God’s child, and, despite sin, we’re already like Him in many ways. We’re creators with a lower case “c”— inventors, dreamers, builders, artists, healers, and child-bearers like our Father. We’re rulers and providers, like our Father. We’re persons in community, just as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are a triune Person in community.

God doesn’t reveal every detail of eternity, but He does reveal what we need to know about it right now. And I’m sure He delights in keeping many juicy surprises in store for us!

Therefore, once we get past the idea that heaven is (1.) strictly a destination after death, and (2.) a holding place where the righteous dead wait or sleep while God does something to the earth and humanity, we can get involved in what God is doing with them.

We do know that God wants His children with Him—not to float around or sing perpetual hymns, but to be co-creators with Him, just as we are now on a smaller scale. We’ll be very much alive and active with meaningful, exciting work on a huge scale. It’s why ruler-servanthood with personal virtue like Christ is so central to eternal living.

We also know that God will share His happiness and put those He can trust in charge of much more on the renewed earth. “Well done, my good servant! Because you’ve been trustworthy in a small matter, now take charge of ten cities.” (Luk. 19:17) Or ten acres, ten schools, ten sunrises, or whatever you can imagine and have a knack for.

If that sounds far-fetched, remember that people who are considered worthy (prepared) to take part in that age will be like angels, according to Jesus; and angels are always in charge of something because their will matches God’s. For example, four angels have charge of “the four winds of the earth.” (Rev.7:1)

God doesn’t want to control us; He wants to set us free so He can trust us to do what we want to do. It’s the grandest, most outrageous idea ever. But it isn’t safe or sound until we’re more like God, and what we want to do aligns with what He wants to do.

Therefore, Jesus, the Master of life, is happy to teach us personally. One life at a time, through this partnership, Adam and Eve transform into noble ruler-servants who don’t create the disasters we do today. The day is coming when we really shall not kill, lie, covet, steal, manipulate, consume, or harm. If even Sodom will be restored (Eze. 16:53), nothing is impossible in God’s ongoing adventure with mankind.

If God removed limits, what would you like to be in charge of? What would have to change for you to be trusted with it, and what would you practice to help the change along?

Advertisements
Sunburst over Earth

Image via Wikipedia

In Part 1, we discovered that the kingdom of heaven “at hand” can be defined as the range of God’s effective will; and the Greek term tou ouranou  means “air” or “atmosphere.” Heaven is the presence of God in our immediate surroundings.

In Part 2, we learned that heaven has “compartments” and that heaven and Earth are distinct, but connected. The kingdom isn’t strictly a dwelling place; it’s a dwelling community and system—on this side of death’s door and beyond.

“The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luk. 17:20-21) Again, Jesus means “in your midst,” among you.

As Jesus illustrated in one parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.” (Mat. 13:33) The kingdom is progressively expanding—not larger or stronger, but fuller of citizens as it works its way through mankind. But it isn’t literal yeast, just as its opposite “yeast of the Pharisees” also isn’t literal yeast.

Likewise, heaven isn’t merely a literal, far-off city with streets of gold located on the re-made Earth. Yet it isn’t strictly an ethereal, non-physical thing, either. Neither is heaven just a symbol, or an eternal, boring church service, or a limited place of sinless perfection.

Solid Hope and Assistance

We need hope and a glorious hereafter to look forward to, of course. But Jesus knows we also need a present hope and solid solutions for today. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Mat. 6:34) (more…)

Sunburst over Earth

Image via Wikipedia

In Part 1, we discovered that the kingdom of heaven is more than a location, more than somewhere we go when we die. The kingdom is the range of God’s effective will; and a consistent translation of the Greek term tou ouranou means “air” or “atmosphere.”

 Thus, Jesus’ good news that the kingdom of heaven is at hand means that God’s heavenly kingdom is available to anyone who seeks to live within it—not just after they die, but while they live everyday life.

The idea that heaven is a multi-faceted system and that at least some of it is familiar rather than completely foreign brings an awesome new perspective. Heaven, or, “the heavens,” has something like compartments, regions, or dimensions—call them what you will. “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” We enter by being “born” into it, i.e., choosing to step in.

This perspective is crucial because most people, religious or not, see heaven as a solitary thing, and accessible only in the afterlife. We’ve singled out perhaps the “seventh heaven” to define a place of flawless perfection where evil doesn’t exist, where God dwells, and where His will is instantly carried out. While that’s true, it’s the only aspect of heaven we’re familiar with today.

But, Paul, for example, describes being caught up to the “third heaven” where he heard things he’s not allowed to tell (2Cor. 12:2-4). He says twice that he’s not sure if he was there bodily or spiritually. He doesn’t explain what the third heaven is, perhaps because his early readers already understood it. And the environment must have been familiar enough or Paul wouldn’t have been confused as to whether he was there physically or spiritually.

The “first heaven” is as near as the air we breathe. It’s where God mingles with man and Earth in our region of His beloved creation. We perceive Him with our physical senses—sight, hearing, and touch—precisely because He wants us to perceive Him. So He shares His kingdom right where we are so we can interact with Him in the land of the living. (more…)