This is a season of being transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2). The Lord has been challenging much of what I used to believe, and correcting my somewhat faulty paradigm. It will be a while before I can share how he’s been doing this, so if my stories seem a little vague, now you know why!
However, the latest one – about eternity – involves no one else. I can tell all!
This paradigm shift thing is kind of funny, for some of the changes (like unconditional love) make my mind feel like it’s being twisted into a huge knot. In truth, though, it is being untwisted and set straight.
That God is doing so is comical, for my most frequent prayer concerning other issues is that the Lord would make the crooked places straight, rough places smooth, and for truth to be revealed…and this prayer hasn’t been for me personally, but for others! While typing out this post, I just made this connection. He’s been doing this in me, too. Very cool!
Let’s get back to eternity.
It does not begin the day I die, as I previously believed. Jesus said it this way:
“This is eternal life, that they know You, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (Jn. 17:3)
In other words, with Jesus as my Lord, and in relationship with Him and the Father (and the Spirit, of course, who lives within me), this is eternal life. I’m living it!
Sure, for now it’s on a broken planet that’s still under the rule of the enemy, but my eternal life is well underway!
Further, Jesus said He came to give life – and that abundantly.
He meant here and now, not in the sweet by and by.
Sadly, I’ve spent almost a half a century gutting it out, hoping to endure to the end – to drag myself across the finish line of life so I could get to the “good stuff”
…and discovered that “life piled on life” is ours to enjoy right now – today!
Somehow, we’ve accepted the idea that we will live in heaven forever. A careful look at Scripture will reveal that our goal is not to “get up to heaven;” it is for us to live in such a way that we get heaven happening down here. Don’t we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?”
Further, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and God will dwell with us here – not in heaven, as I previously believed.
I mean, I’ve been trying to get through this life, hoping it would end soon so I could “get up” to heaven.
If God intended for us to live in heaven, He would have placed us in heaven and skipped the whole “earth” thing, wouldn’t He? I do not believe that earth was created as a waiting room – a proving ground of sorts – to see who could qualify for a heavenly home.
If this were the case, it certainly wouldn’t be fair. Since those who are under the age of accountability go directly to be with the Lord upon their death, it seems that heaven’s inhabitants are largely aborted babies. They didn’t have to prove anything to gain entrance to heaven!
The Tower of Babel was an example of man trying to “get up” to heaven. It ended in division – language was confused, and distrust set in.
This still happens today. Why are we upset when people around us speak in a foreign language? At its core, we feel threatened because we don’t know what they are saying. “Are they talking about me?”
When heaven came down to earth at Pentecost by way of the Spirit, however, the result was unity!
One God, one Spirit, one Lord. We have a common language. Some refer to it as “Christianese” or “Biblespeak.” Our vocabulary changed when we became disciples. I experience this when I travel and join other believers for worship – whether here in the states or in another country. It’s a wonderful thing!
Heaven came to earth in Jesus Christ. He’s seated on His throne right now, but we, His body, are here to represent Him. Through us, heaven can still impact this world if we abide in Him. We are to be bearers of the Good News that reconciliation with God is possible now.
If the Kingdom of God is within us, and we are God’s tabernacle (the original of which is in heaven), then we can indeed experience heaven here on earth. Between this life and the new heaven and earth, we will be with the Lord in heaven, but it’s not our permanent dwelling place.
The abundant life of which Jesus spoke is available to us here and now, not after we die.
Hope is a “now” word – not just a “on that great day” word.
Fellowship with Him is meant to be now, as well. Although we only see through a glass darkly, we see His effects around us, in the same way as we see the effects of the wind, but cannot see the wind itself.
At this point, I realize that I don’t need a “near-death” experience to give me hope.
What I desperately need is a “near-life” experience!
Thanks for listening while I try to work this all out on “paper.” 🙂 It’s in its infancy yet, so kind comments are appreciated.
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