I was caught off guard in college when a professor mentioned that the Kingdom of Heaven was Jesus’ favorite theme. “If he talked so much about it, why doesn’t anyone know more about what Heaven is like?” I wondered. And then I started paying attention to what the Bible actually said about the Kingdom of Heaven.
Heaven isn’t just some place God’s people go to when they die. It’s a place where God is King that is already making its way down to the earth when it’s lived out through God’s people, just as it was when Jesus lived it out. Heaven isn’t only beyond the spiritual veil later—Heaven is pushing through the veil to our side even now. Heaven isn’t only putting on a resurrected body later—it’s the seed of resurrection already working in us to bring forth new redeemed character and gifting. Heaven isn’t only perfect justice later—it’s the pursuit of righteous justice today. Heaven isn’t just a church service full of fancy lights, good music, great teaching and comfortable theater seating—Heaven is God breaking through in our messy lives and our messy gatherings to the point that it impacts the people and world around us. Heaven isn’t someone we can elect to a throne—it’s someone who already has an unremovable throne.
And one day at the end of all things, Heaven—the space where Jesus is King—will make its way to the earth in fullness and everything we know and love will be changed by the force of love; for the ultimate vision of Christianity isn’t to go to Heaven when we die, but to come back to a redeemed earth with new immortal resurrected bodies.
And as with all visions, we don’t just wait for a vision to come to be, we work toward it now in the present. If we reduce Christianity to nothing more than saying a salvation prayer like Christianity is a magical incantation or something, then Heaven will not break out of us. If we don’t allow Heaven to change us, but keep all our old thinking and lifestyles, then Heaven will not break out of us. But if we take this thing seriously and actually allow it to change us, one day and one action at a time, then we’ll start to see the Heaven we’ve hoped for on the earth right now—the resurrection that’s already growing inside of God’s people.
If we really want to see things change on the political topics we vote for, we’ll find that it happens less in a system made by human hands and more in how the Holy Spirit can usher in Heaven via our own character and actions.