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.

Is it possible for conflict to make love more compelling?

Conflicts that control or weaken your ability to enjoy life are conflicts that cut off your life-supply of love. Love is the substance of your life and it must control conflicts in order to enable you to grow. If the love within you is not strong enough to do this, the conflicts you face will destroy and choke the theory you have of love.

For love to be real, it must fulfill two requirements, 1) it must not be from you and 2) it must be something that is practiced, not merely felt. Does this seem a little rough, a little less appealing than the love you feel is more natural? If so, than might I suggest that it’s possible that the love you hold to is more about you than it is about extending yourself for the interest of others?

That may sound a bit harsh, but if love is of God (as it says in 1 John 4) than truly you cannot attest to your possession of it if we are not “of God” yourself. Therefore, you do not look to yourself to conjure up love; you merely offer yourself to God that He might transform you into a tangible expression of the love He gives you.

God’s love teaches that all conflicts come from us–us and our neighbors–and the resolution of all conflict comes from God. Because we do not have to be the ones to create a way to fix all the situations we’re in, we learn to trust God and glorify Him in our trials.

Yes, how lovely our Savior looks in these things as He embraces us in the cares that have come because of our sin and the consequences of our original rebellion! He who should have stayed far away from us, now not only comes near, but shares with us in our mistakes, that He might make them testimonies to His success at Calvary: How He has covered all our sin and made us acceptable before God not on our merits, but on His.

If God’s love can so masterfully convert this conflict into something that can make us love Him, can He not use all the daily conflicts we face now to make us appreciate that love more and more?

Wikipedia: His political essay Utopia speculates about life under an ideal government.