I’ve heard it asked before, “What will heaven be like?”. I’ve actually experienced this question first hand when my 5 year old asked me this week what daddy was doing in heaven all day. Within the context of tradition, we might imagine angels singing, clouds passing by, loved ones we’ve lost back in our presence, and constant worship to God. All of these things sound … well heavenly, but then what? If these fluffy imaginations are the sum total of eternity one could reason this could get slightly boring given enough time (or lack of time). If the ‘age to come’ is truly at hand, as Christ told us it was, are our lines being crossed on the envisioned after-life and our role here on Earth now?
Although, I am fully grounded in the reality that living life for the mere suggestion of ‘what is to come’ is no way to enjoy the gift of life God has given us, I do believe that ‘what is to come’ has great implications for our life now. That these implications, should and do, have weight in our lives, and they are worthy of our time and discussion. I have recently found myself driving down a highway erasing those things surrounding me that won’t be present in the new Earth Jesus has promised to us. The feeling that comes along with that is exciting and extremely startling. What, if anything, in our lives is worthy of this renewed Earth … this Earth 2.0?
This question has been following me for weeks now, settling itself in my heart as a formation of words. I hope I can form these words in some sensible nature in order to share with all of you.
It starts with a simple deduction in reasoning – Christ made it clear to us that God’s vision for His coming Kingdom was not entirely future. Jesus, more often than not, delivered his message in a tense that suggested He was speaking of things in the present. He told us that the Kingdom of God was at hand, that it was here among us, and that we could take part in that kingdom right now. Given this truth, we must then be able to see some of what the new heaven and new earth will encompass. We must have some things in our lives worthy of that thing we hope to be part of ‘some day’.
What is exciting about Jesus’ declaration is that for those of you not walking with Christ I hope you will still see this as applicable to your life – I believe this message is true for everyone. The future kingdom of God is described as a place with no more sickness, no more tears, and no more pain. When described in this way I venture to say it is a place that each Earthly inhabitant has a desire to be in the midst of, to discover, to even help create. Each of us can ask ourselves how it is that we can become the type of people that contribute to bringing about a world that looks more like this one Jesus describes, instead of a person who is inflicting the opposite (sometimes unknowingly or possibly ignorantly).
My mind wanders to the useless things we fill up our time with, the shades we draw over oppression we impose on others, and the good things we create in this daily life that will be needed in the age to come. This will be a series of posts – an Earth 2.0 Exposed. My hope is to stir in you what has been stirred in me … new eyes. Eyes to look at the world around us and evaluate what we take part in as a means to discover what He is preparing us for. And that preparation is part of the process.
I don’t imagine that, upon my death, I will awake in heaven a completely different Stephanie. No, rather I imagine (and hope …) I will still be me. But how could I enter into heaven when my inclination to stumble is so great? I believe we are here to prepare ourselves, and we cannot do this when we are stagnant. Life must not become mundane or routine. Our perspective must continuously be re-evaluated. We have to let our hearts be stirred when love is seen. Our emotions to overcome us when pain is felt. It can be easy to lose our spirit in the propaganda that is our every waking second. But to become the person you desire to be we all must work at it.
Which brings me back to my beloved readers who aren’t Christ followers. Followers of Christ or not, we all long to be better. We all long to make our lives something worthy. This application of evaluation, elimination, and preparation is universal. Be courageous – dare to identify those things we allow in our lives that might be causing pain, might be to blame for suffering, and has the capacity to bring a person to tears. And beyond that, there is joy in this self discovery – identify the things He will need us to carry on, the things that we are doing that bring hope, new life, and joy to those around us. I have no doubt heaven is not a boring place, but I do greatly doubt that we will all be sitting on a cloud singing How Great Is Our God for all eternity. No, we were created by the Creator for a purpose. Each person slightly different, but we are here to fill the Earth, to cultivate, to create, and to enjoy what He has given us. I do not believe this will change in the kingdom to come.
So for now, I would ask – and only because I am too – for you to look around the next time you are outside … scan the skyline the next time you drive over a bridge. Take an inventory of what you see that glorifies God, of the things that have the power to eliminate pain and suffering, and those things that may be causing it. What do we have among us right now that is worthy of the title ‘Eternal’. And then, do the same within your own life.
I’m going on a journey, my destination is Earth renewed, and I’m inclined to think Christ needs me to armor up to get there. I’m hoping you’ll join me on my path.
Grace and Peace.