Why Wait for Heaven?
‘The kingdom of God is within you.’ (Luke 17:21)
Look at rock faces, and you will see how the different strata are often clearly visible and how, sometimes, one layer of rock has pushed hard against another, sliding over the top of it and overlapping it. That’s how it is with God’s kingdom, Jesus said. In him, God’s future age has ‘pushed hard’ into the present age and ‘overlapped it’.
As his followers, we now live ‘in the overlap’. Our life is rooted in the present; and yet the future has overlapped our present and broken through into it so that we can begin to experience the life of the age to come right now. In short, we don’t have to wait for heaven to start experiencing it!
Jesus taught that God’s kingdom has two aspects. First, he said that the kingdom is here, right now. He described it as ‘near’ (Matthew 4:17), ‘within you’ (Luke 17:21), ‘upon you’ (Matthew 12:28). All this is the language of immediacy and closeness, not of waiting for something yet to come. But while the kingdom was undeniably present (witness his healings, miracles and deliverances), he also taught that there was an aspect of the kingdom still to come. Many parables underline this future aspect, like the parables of the weeds and the net (Matthew 13), the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20), the wedding banquet (Matthew 22), and the ten virgins, the talents, and the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25). So, the kingdom is here and now, but it is also there and then.
In other words, we really can experience some of the kingdom now, though we don’t have all of it yet! But although we don’t have all of it yet, it doesn’t mean we can’t experience any of it now! The overlapping kingdom is certainly here to be experienced and enjoyed, but it is limited by its co-existence with this present world. But at Jesus’ return, this world will be wrapped up and all that will remain will be the kingdom – which is why it makes such sense to invest in it now!
Don’t just wait for heaven as your future; for with Jesus, the future starts now! Ask God to reveal and release more of the dynamic of this kingdom into your life and situation today. ‘Your kingdom come’ (Matthew 6:10)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont