Archive for the ‘new heavens’ Tag

Its over…well almost!   Leave a comment

The Chicago Cubs have won the world series, the British , or at least the English, have decided to leave the European Union and by the time you read this the United Staes will have a new president (or almost have one!). Each of these events was preceded by endless  analysis, discussion, prediction and persuasive rhetoric. In some cases the conversation was excited and enthusiastic, and in others harsh and vitriolic, but in every case the current state of technology rendered the quantity unprecedented. In each case the results were unknown until those last few decisive hours and in some cases the result totally unexpected, but they are over!

Almost everywhere except perhaps Chicago, the sporting event that was billed as “changing the face of baseball” is long gone and we are lost in the customary deluge of current sporting analysis. The UK is slowly but surely working out the way forward and out of Europe without destroying any more relationships than necessary and The US will learn to deal with a new president, who ever receives the requisite number of votes. The world both locally and nationally will move on and learn to live with the consequences large and small.

At New Life we have been ” Imagining Heaven” together for the past few weeks and it struck me how different a reality this presents us with as followers of Jesus. The plan of God is still the same and has never changed . We know the result! Revelation 21 excites me more every time I read it . The choice is clear and everyone of us gets to make that choice for ourselves. We do not need to decide whose opinion or analysis is the most persuasive, or wait for the declaration of the majority decision . Our part in God’s unchanging plan is crucial, eternally crucial, simply to decide if we will choose to love and follow our Creator and then take every opportunity He gives to encourage everyone we know to understand what is at stake, make their own choice.

When God declares the plan concluded, our choices will become eternal. We will not simply learn to live with a result, we will either experience the unspeakable joy of love, light and  life in the world God created in the way He intended or experience what it really means to choose a life without God.  I have never felt the urgency of finding ways to share the certainty of that”result” more than I do now. How about you?

This world is not my home… or is it?   Leave a comment

As I mentioned in my two previous blogs I am currently reading “ Surprised By Hope” by N T Wright and it continues to make me think deeply about my perspectives on our future hope. Right from the outset Dr Wright suggests that our thinking about what he calls “life after life after death” has, over time, become deeply flawed. The theology reflected in many of our hymns and songs, (for example the one I used in title of this article) does not reflect the teaching of scripture or the preaching of the early church. He says

Frankly what we have at the moment isn’t, as old liturgies used to say” the sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead” but a vague and fuzzy optimism that somehow things will work out in the end… If we are not careful, we will offer a “hope” that is no longer a surprise, no longer able to transform lives and communities in the present, no longer generated by the resurrection of Jesus himself and looking forward to the promised new heavens and new earth”

Wright suggests that scripture indicates that this world will indeed be our home for eternity. It will be a restored, renewed, and redeemed but that Gods commitment to the world He created and “saw that it was good” is unwavering and his plan culminates in its restoration not its destruction.

Why is this important? Because it adjusts our focus in everything we do.  Everything we do becomes working for the kingdom that will come right here on earth.  Our care of the planet, the art and music we produce, the people we reach out to, the kingdom starts now in a very real sense for those who follow Jesus. Wright puts it like this

“ The work we do at present, then, gains its full significance from the eventual design in which it was meant to belong. Applied to the mission of the church, this means that we must work in the present for the advance signs of that eventual state of affairs when God is “all in all”, when His kingdom has come and His will is “done on earth as it is in heaven.” This will of course be radically different form the kind of work we would engage in if our sole task was to save souls for a disembodied heaven or simply help people enjoy a fulfilling relationship with God as though it was the end of the matter”

I have become convinced that my thinking on our future hope has become what Wright describes as “vague and fuzzy”. As a consequence I run the risk of devaluing the significance to God’s Kingdom of every action we take here on earth. It becomes more and more apparent to me that to live and preach whole life transformation is imperative. Then and only then, as God transforms us, can we play a full part in intentionally accomplishing things that are significant for the kingdom that will come.

 

Posted June 15, 2011 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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