Actively bringing about much needed change in our communities and hope to the broken and disheartened.
Something that I seem to be grappling with constantly: when we tell someone about the good news of Jesus should we tell it in a way that makes heaven the point of receiving forgiveness for sin?
What if Jesus didn’t die so that we could go to heaven, but instead He died so that you could live for Him here on earth? I agree and affirm the long-standing orthodox Christian belief that the reason Jesus died and three days later rose from the dead was so that all people might receive forgiveness for the sin in their life. But what if the primary reason for that forgiveness was to make it possible for intrinsically unholy people to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order that God’s Spirit might have a physical avenue to be active in the world? In other words, what if you are in relationship with God so that you can be used by Him TODAY to fulfill His purposes on EARTH and not just so that you can go to heaven? What if spreading the gospel is more about increasing the presence of God on earth and less about getting more people into heaven? What if spreading the gospel is about God being glorified through more lives on earth and not about ME avoiding burning in hell? Are we saved from hell or from a life on earth (and post earth) without God?
Don’t misunderstand me. I am immensely grateful for fact that I will be able to spend eternity with God in heaven. However, when the point of the gospel becomes getting to heaven, instead of being used by God now it erodes our understanding what it means to be a people who follow Jesus’ example every day. We are not Christians because we will be in heaven one day, we are Christians because we have made a commitment to allow the Spirit of God inside of us to make us more and more Christ like every day, a commitment to model our lives after Jesus’ (by the grace of God). Heaven is not the point. Being in an unobstructed relationship with God is the point. Because He is God, when we are in an unobstructed relationship with Him we become servants, children, followers etc. (who He is determines who I am = my identity is found in Him). Being in good relationship with God never ends, heaven is simply the place that it continues after we leave earth, but for now that relationship takes place on earth and in that relationship we find our identity and purpose (servants of God). We are not saved from hell, we are saved from the obstructions inherent in our life that prevent relationship with God. It is not about getting out of the fire, sometimes God is in the fire (Daniel 3:24-25) and if God is in the fire that is where you want to be.
I think that we need to unlearn some of the Christian jargon we use when we tell someone about Jesus and His presence in our lives. Let take the focus off of heaven put the focus on a relationship with God that not only changes our life post earth, but our life on earth.