Heaven coming to Earth

This week we continue with the Kingdom of God theme we have been writing about for the past few weeks. It’s a theme often lost in Christian thought, but very central to what Jesus spoke about, making it one of the key themes of all of Scripture.

Last week, Christiane and I took part in a week-long theological seminar, with people from different Christian denominations, and speakers from many parts of the US and England. It was a very physically tiring, but spiritually refreshing week. You may think that spending a week with a bunch of theologians might look a little like ‘heaven’, but we can assure you that it does not. 

One thing we all pray week after week is: “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”. So, it is only natural to stop and think what that means. Last week, we had many conversations about the application of theology in our everyday lives. How to constantly invite the Spirit to guide us in our reading of Scriptures, and meditation on the Lord’s teachings. The way we understand and receive God’s grace and love towards us is crucial to determine the way we extend grace and love towards others. Therefore, impacting our everyday lives and relationships.  

We often think of Heaven as someplace ‘up there’, while we are ‘down here’.  Then, we hope that someday we will “get to heaven”.  Scriptures, and Jesus himself, says something different.  

Jesus says, “The Kingdom of God is at Hand” and “is near” (Mark 1:16, Matthew 3:2, 4:17, 10:7, Luke 10:9, 21:31, Luke 10:11 – and this is not a complete list). You may say, but Jesus also says, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). So, to be clear: The Kingdom of God may not be OF this world or FROM it, but it has definitely come and IS coming.  Jesus makes it possible for us to experience it everyday.  Not only that, but in His graced love, we also get to extend it to others.

Of course, when we read Rev. 21, we look forward to the most exciting and final pronouncement of Scripture on this topic.  Now remember, Revelation is mostly metaphorical, so we must be careful in how to derive meaning from it.  However, many theologians agree that Rev. 21 is describing our eternal home as Heaven and Earth coming together in the last days.

It says:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5 ESV

It is so reassuring to think of time of  “No more crying, pain, or death”.  I think we’re so bombarded with a sense of self-preservation, that we often focus primarily in this “not yet” aspect of the kingdom. I want to remind us of the “already” beautiful, mind-blowing, life-transforming aspect of this passage: “the dwelling place of God is with man”. 

God’s presence IS the Kingdom of Heaven breaking through on Earth, and we have been enveloped by Him. Just as the cloud of God’s glory filled the tabernacle in the wilderness, the Spirit fills us up, and we get to carry His glory within us. A touch of Heaven in the here and now. 

One of the Ancient Church Fathers, Jerome, has this to say about “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”:

“Either it is a general prayer for the kingdom of the whole world that the reign of the Devil may cease; or for the kingdom in each of us that God may reign there, and that sin may not reign in our mortal body.”

 We believe it is both, and while we still deal with so much evil around us, we can certainly welcome the reign of God in us, so that we may daily grow in His likeness. 

Blessings and Peace,

Rev. Todd and Dr. Christiane