Heavenly Questions

treeskygrassIf I am honest, I have a difficult time with “Be Ready” kinds of passages. This is probably just a knee jerk reaction to having spend a great deal of time and energy in the world of Christianity which primarily focuses on what happens after you die. This doom and gloom version of the Gospel always seemed to me like life was about sitting around and waiting until we die. And certainly you can read the week’s Scriptures this way: We sit, we wait, we try really hard to keep all the rules so Jesus isn’t too mad at us when he comes back.

And while I find discussion of heaven extremely helpful when loved ones pass on, I often struggle with how it makes a difference in my day-to-day existence. I’m sure heaven is great, but how do I know? Why miss life because I am shooting for something I cannot experience or see or touch? When I look at passages about being ready for the end and being sure of things I cannot see, does this have any bearing on my Ordinary life?

I think if we want an answer to that last question, we need to look at what Heaven is.

The blog version is this: Heaven is life as it was intended to be. No poverty or grief or loss or injustice or violence or hunger of any kind. Death and its ramifications no longer exist. We live in perfect harmony and union with each other and God.

The world I live in is somewhat different from this picture. It is a beautiful vision, but far from the reality I experience every day.

But I think the connection comes from Heb. 11. Greg Boyd talks a lot about this verse and I think it is really helpful. Look at this translation:

Now faith is [the] substantiating of things hoped for, [the] conviction of things not seen

If we are convicted of God moving the world towards this vision of heaven, faith is substantiating that vision.

I am not sitting around waiting to die. I am actively involved in God’s work of putting the world back together. I am opening my Ordinary life to God’s hope for the world.

So I move towards deeper relationships and connections with God and with people. I work towards eliminating poverty, injustice, violence, and hunger. And when I do this, I see moments of heaven break through in my Ordinary life.

This is the story of Abraham. In Hebrews we are told he had a vision (conviction) of something he could not see. Then he moved towards it. He worked to make it a reality (substantiating). And Hebrews tells us he never got there.

How did he keep going? What made him press on towards something he would never see? I think it is because he saw moments of that vision break through on the way. And it wasn’t just having babies after a century of life (although that helped!). He packed up all he had and moved to a whole new land and a whole new life. But he did it with God. He was quite literally moving towards something and that movement deepened his trust and intimacy with God. It changed how he treated people and sent his life in a new direction.

Before God’s call, he was sitting around waiting to die. Now all of the sudden he is moving towards something spectacular and is being shaped by the process. As it turns out, being ready is not just waiting to die so I can have something I have never experienced or seen or touched. Faith is movement towards God’s realities and intentions in the world. And as we move towards them, we experience them along the way.

But it starts with answering the call in our Ordinary lives. It starts right where we are, working towards the vision of God’s future. When we listen, and act we experience the miraculous in the Ordinary and this strengthens our conviction for the future we cannot yet see.

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