By Bill Risinger
Recently, Patti and I got to spend some wonderful days with Patti’s father. Charlie is a godly man who has dedicated his life to the Lord’s service. He is experiencing some very difficult health issues, and seems to be spending a lot of time contemplating heaven. I have always loved conversations about spiritual matters with my father-in-law.
One day, during a good conversation, Charlie asked, “What do you think heaven is going to be like?” That question has continued to remain in my heart and mind. I believe we should live in the present as people of the future. We are to be reflections of the kingdom of God into our world.
I’ll admit, most of my life, I lived with what I now call an “escapist theology.” I had crossed the “Jesus line,” and was ready at any time to escape to heaven. The world is not as it should be, and we should never fully embrace the world as it is presently arranged. However, I now believe we need to live within it as we work towards making it into the kind of world that reflects God’s best intentions. The way we live ought to point people towards the completed project: a world full of love, justice, peace and hope. One of my favorite verses regarding this is 1 Corinthians 15:58:
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
We don’t walk away from the darkness but into it. Not with arrogance or condemnation towards its current inhabitants—which would display the characteristics of the world as it is—but with love, joy, justice, healing and peace—qualities of God’s promised, future world. Abounding in the work of the Lord!
We draw upon the resources of the world-to-come, and showcase its beauty to the world-that-is. God’s kingdom dream is for the Church to display in advance God’s cosmic restoration project. Jesus used every day he had to plant this dream into the hearts of the people he met. The same people that our children learned about this week in VBS. People like Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, Nicodemus, and the blind man.
“We’ll work ’til Jesus comes!” We work while we wait. And, we pray. Pray that the fullness of the kingdom will find expression in and through the Church.
Pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done—on earth, as it is in heaven.”