Thursday, June 01, 2006

contemplating heaven


I think Jesus would be puzzled by our preoccupation with heaven as something that is exclusively hereafter. “The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation,” Jesus said, “Nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21, emphasis added).

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

This is eternal life: that they may know You...and Me.

There is something about heaven and eternity that we have to grasp because if we don’t, we’ll miss everything else. We’ll read the music but never sing, study the choreography but never dance.

It’s this: Heaven starts now.

[...] Eternity is primarily a quality of relationship. It is first and foremost a presence: to know God and Jesus Christ.

Eternity begins now.

Christianity’s most shocking claim is that Jesus is the only way to God. No one gets to heaven apart from Jesus. No one enters eternal joy apart from Christ. That’s our claim. I have seen people react to it with anger, contempt, disgust, incredulity. How dare you say that ! That is so arrogant and narrow and imperialistic. That reaction might be warranted if heaven were only a place and eternity only a duration of time. But heaven is a unique knowing. It is personal, intimate knowledge, not of some thing but of Some One – the only true God and Jesus the one He sent.

This is eternal life.

Mark Buchanan in Things Unseen – Living in Light of Forever, Multnomah Publishers 2002.

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