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About Heaven

I am reading "Surprised by Hope" by N.T. Wright.

The author points out that even Christians have held confusing thoughts and expressions about life after death and heaven. He notes that even Christian writers and hymns often depict heaven incorrectly. However, the heaven described in the Bible is not a future destiny or a world beyond death, but a realm that is present in our current lives.

"Heaven often refers not to a future destiny, but to the other hidden dimension of our ordinary life."

The author seems to emphasize the "present kingdom of God." Jesus also spoke about the coming of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near" (Matt. 4:17). As the author points out, Jesus used the terms "kingdom of heaven" and "kingdom of God" interchangeably. Ultimately, the kingdom of God that has come to this earth is the realm where God's sovereignty and rule prevail. Life in heaven, as Jesus described, is a "vibrant and active human life" reflecting God's image in the new heaven and new earth.

Reflecting on Jesus' words in Matthew, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it" (Matt. 11:22), I realize that living out the life of the kingdom of heaven in the present requires active and intentional effort from us Christians.

I will need to write more on the resurrection later. Regardless of the issue of death, the kingdom of God is already present in our lives. The real question is what kind of life I choose to live (under God's sovereignty? Reflecting God's image?). Of course, I believe in and await the second coming of Jesus. The second coming of Jesus signifies the fulfillment of the kingdom of God.

*Questions for further meditation: Can the presence of the kingdom of God in the present truly offer hope to both Christians and non-Christians in this era?

** The Bible Project's "Heaven and Earth" episode explains heaven with illustrations, making it easy to understand.

Like the illustrations in this video, I can see that the kingdom of heaven, which has come to this earth, is present in my life through repentance and holiness in obedience to God. I believe it is the mission of Christians to expand the boundaries of this kingdom in our lives.

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