The world’s largest department store was bustling. People were milling around everywhere on the first floor. However, for years Charlie had heard people talking about what was on the second floor. Everything one could want filled the isles of first floor, yet nothing caught Charlie’s eye. Like a man on a mission, he headed straight to the elevator. He pushed the button and waited impatiently. It was as if nothing else mattered except getting to the second floor. Why? What was there? Please read more…
I wrote the first paragraph as a parable. Each day we are all surrounded by so many things. The beauty of nature abounds. People are busy going hither and yon. Some are sad, lonely, and hurting, while others are whistling a happy tune. The earth is filled with the wonders of God. Sadly, too often we seem oblivious to our surrounding as we diligently try to check off all of the appropriate items on our punch list to make sure that one day we will reach the Kingdom of God that seems to await us only after death. Metaphorically speaking, we can become too obsessed with the elevator to Heaven.
Certainly, every Christian rightfully looks forward to eternity with God. But, have you ever stopped to think about how little the Bible says about Heaven? Despite the lack of specific Biblical details, many of us spend a lifetime consumed with the thoughts of what lies on the other side. Maybe Jesus spoke so little about Heaven because He wanted us focused on living here and now.
Although Jesus spoke little about Heaven, He spoke a lot about the Kingdom of God. The Old and New Testaments each speak of the Kingdom of God. When you hear this phrase do you think of the present or the future? How do you define the “Kingdom of God”?
It is widely accepted that the Kingdom of God has three dimensions. In the Christological dimension, Jesus is the Kingdom Of God. In the Idealistic/Mystical dimension, The Kingdom of God resides in the heart of man. Finally, in the Ecclesiastical dimension, the Kingdom of God is in the Church (meaning the people of God).
Knowing what the Kingdom is helps us to know when it is. When we understand the three dimensions of the Kingdom of God, we can better answer the question, “Can I live in God’s kingdom now, or do I have to wait until the elevator to Heaven arrives?”
Luke 17:21 tells us, “For behold, the kingdom of God is among you.” In Matthew 4:17 Jesus tells us, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” These two verses make it clear that the Kingdom of God is present now. Yet, in Luke 22:18 Jesus says, “for I tell you that from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And of course, we all know that in Matthew 6:10 Jesus taught us to pray, “your kingdom come.” These two verses imply that the Kingdom of God will come in the future.
The combination of all of all of these verses give rise to a phrase theologians call “already and not yet.” In other words, the Kingdom of God is now, but there is more still to come. It is here, but it has not reached its fulfillment.
Therefore, we will not one day, after death, suddenly reach the Kingdom of Heaven, because we are living in the Kingdom of Heaven now. The most direct and practical way to advance God’s kingdom is to fulfill the great commission. To fulfill the great commission, we must know God and we must help others to know God too.
Clearly, we don’t want to live out our life waiting for the elevator to Heaven. We have a job to do. We need to live out our calling in the Kingdom now. How do we do this? The answer to this question is found in Matthew 6:33 when it states, “seek first the kingdom of God.” We should ask ourselves, “Do I put God first in my life in all that I do?”
With so much focus on getting to Heaven, I have one last important point to make. One of the earliest heresies in Christianity came from the Gnostics. They emphasized the spiritual aspects of the soul over the physical aspects of the body. Sadly, some traces of Gnosticism permeate the thinking of some Christians still today. Many Christians place all of their emphasis on preserving their soul for Heaven, but they place little emphasis on preserving and offering up their body to God now. 1 Corinthians 10:31 gives us this advice, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”
The elevator to Heaven will arrive soon enough. We know not when. Until that day comes, let’s heed the words of the Bible and seek first the Kingdom of God now, and do everything we do for God’s glory. Let’s bloom where God has planted us today!
Heavenly Father, I long for the opportunity to spend eternity with you in Heaven. Until you call me home, grant me the strength and courage to answer your call to grow your Kingdom now. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen
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