This is heaven…in case earth has eclipsed your perception of it

I used to think I knew what heaven was like. Although it was clear, in my head, that the fullest representation of it was presently out of my reach, I believed very much of it could still be perfectly manifested in my life: It just took a little shifting of circumstances, some adjusting of routine. I was convinced that God, as my Savior, needed to be the One to redeem my portion of mortality into something that was just as much a pleasure as paradise would one day be.

I was not living to be integrated into the new life God had revived me for. I didn’t have a strong interest in deeper, grander plans God might have for my life. I was concerned with identifying Christ most fully as a perfectly-suitable social servant. My idea of a Redeemer was one who operated under the already-established rule of the world. He would fix all the mistakes, He would right all the wrongs. But, He would function like a superhero who helped the world (system) operate the way it was supposed to; His help would be a luxury that made living with evil less daunting.

What I didn’t count on was my Hero having His own agenda. More then setting-the-world-right, He works to usher in a new world–the seat of His kingdom. He saved me and you, not just to protect us from the evil powers of this world, but to make us permanent citizens of the place He calls Home. For the sake of our good, every day, He is testing our attachments to this world we were born into and then born-again out of.

He wants us to realize that this is not all there is, and this is not the best. We may experience His almighty goodness here, but that is because of Him and not because the vessels He uses are distinctly beneficial in themselves. In so many ways, we need to let go of this world–the happiness we long to find here that so easily inclines us to dismiss the joy Christ wants us to find there. We need to let God set our eyes on the revelation of a new order, a new creation that exalts His name and proclaims His works without fail. This is the only place we really belong, now that we have come to know Him.

His heart is ultimately wrapped up in delivering us to heaven: Where we will be wholly united with Him, where our hearts will finally find utter harmony with His, where all death will be over because His death has secured life for us forever. Every day that remains in this temporary holding-place is a day to be marked with waiting, eager anticipation and delight at the thought of being intimately associated with the One who is our Life. In the meantime, we treasure up every new association with Christ that is formed in us by the Holy Spirit and we labor with Him to refresh the world (people) around us with the evidence of heaven’s riches invading the hearts of earthly men.

Heaven is what makes earth happy

Happiness cannot be contained by this world. It is not to be forced into certain contexts or expected to spring out of little cartridges. Happiness does not belong in these things — at least not in its fullest, soul-satisfying form.

Happiness, instead, is a heaven-thing that flits about down here, appearing in little wisps for brief moments to give a hint of what we must seek heaven to find. The whole design in happiness and our desire for it is to get us disengaged from the all-consuming, life-impacting policies of this world and reengaged with the claims of a heavenly paradise that boasts its claims all around us.

One thing does not lead to the other

Now you may be saying, “But since when does heaven hold out happiness; I’ve only seen where hell can do that!” Well, first of all, I’m so glad you asked, because that is a most crucial question. One of the biggest things we have to decide in this life is what to believe about the next one. Based on what we believe about heaven and hell’s opposing parties, we will choose the one we want to be apart of.

Second, I would like to contrast the supposed advantages of each. I will begin with hell. Since the Fall when mankind committed its initial act of rebellion against God, Paradise — as it is referred to in John Milton’s classic poetic masterpiece — has been Lost. Not only has our world been corrupted by the literal death-grip of our sin, but hell has laid claim to every one of us under its power.

You see, the tales you have been hearing about the freedom and favorability of hell are lies made palatable to you while you are at odds with God. Heaven is so pleasing to our bodies and imagination — even after these things have been corrupted by evil — that Satan has to do everything in his power to keep us from ever seeing it accurately.

This does not mean that he always denies that heaven exists or that it is wonderful. Sometimes all that he needs to do is keep us content with vague ideas of how to get there. If we don’t know that we are ineligible by our own merits, then there is no danger that we will go — even if we spend our whole lives in an attempt to “make it.”

In this way it is not necessary for Satan to make us perfect miniatures of himself for us to be destined for hell. All that he has to do is prevent us from realizing that our good is not good enough. For we do not stump him by diligently following the course of all our religious strategies, we destroy his hold over us by abandoning them for his sworn enemy. Christ is our Savior because He is Satan’s victorious opposition.

Therefore, if heaven is Christ’s home, how can it be ours unless we forsake Satan’s home (hell)? Heaven is the reward of the Christ-like. It is possible for every person to image-God (as I mentioned in an earlier post), but only we who have received Christ as our righteousness can image-forth that likeness.

I don’t know about you, but if I created heaven to be a place of glory and perfection, I wouldn’t be welcoming in anyone who wasn’t. Especially not if I had already put forth an open invitation to the world on the condition that anyone who would come should believe in the power of my death rather than the power of their own lives.

Why do we expect God to accept us on our own terms when He has already made it possible for us to gain acceptance on His terms? Jesus Christ is the Door to heaven and we will not find ourselves on the other side unless we walk through Him.

If Heaven were Here

A caught a new thought on the winds of words from a woman I just met. As I watched the Youtube video featuring her voice slow-dancing through the verses of a poem entitled Figuring Life Out I myself figured something out. Ann said life is not an emergency, though we treat it like such.

If I made for heaven and reborn to enter into it, why can’t that be now? Why do I have to live any longer like I belong to this long lost world of fearful mistakes, and God-less days? Why do I have to wallow in self-pity and forget about the joy that came from Him just for me on the wings of this day that sin and sorrow paint so morbidly? Why do I have to miss everything that God meant for me to see and surrender to today?

If God has welcomed me into the kingdom, doesn’t this mean that He has asked me to receive heaven’s ways as my own? If anything is the standard there, why can’t it dictate its beauties of revelation and experience here to? I want to be so in the realm of God, that I hold onto what I don’t need to let go of, and release what I need to be let go of.

Why can’t I treat the world this body occupies like a moment in time that can’t and won’t distinguish every thing I do for all my days. Teach me, Lord, to wait; wait for the vision You’re processing in these dial-up days of mine. Let me watch out for what is being moved in heaven, so that I will not fail to claim the same here. I want Your reality to be my reality; so long as I am in You, they are the same.

Taking Over

This morning I’m thinking about heaven — what I wrote about a lot last night — and death — my uncle just died this morning — and about what we can get from this world while we live in it.

Think about it, the devil doesn’t care what we have in this world, so long as we don’t have it in God. We can be the richest people in the world, with no one even near our range of wealth, and this will hardly bother our adversary. He is concerned with our souls — just as God is, though with far different intent — not our pocketbooks.

Satan rejoices when we are succeeding and moving ahead in the status of this world, forgetting about the incomparable reality of heaven and living with Christ. We can boast in all that we have now, until it is no more, and we see how much we never really had. Or, we can choose to boast in Christ now, that later we might have the joy of discovering that all the time we possessed far more than we ever realized. This is grace — a gift from God we don’t deserve, and will never fully comprehend until this world has faded and we stand in the next.

If it is truly our future, let us put ourselves in a position for it to take over our present, and redefine our past. I want to have a heaven-hopeful existence so that the hopeless around me in this world will not miss the certainty we can expect with Christ in the next.