Monday, June 6, 2011

It's NOT About Getting To Heaven, But Getting Heaven Here

In the last post I asked the question whether or not we, as Christ followers, have any part in the coming of the Kingdom of God. This thought stemmed from the recent interview between John Piper and Rick Warren, when Warren stated that he believed we have no part in ushering in the kingdom, but rather God controls everything in every way.

Instead we are put on this earth to get saved, love God, practice for eternity, and make disciples out of others so that those who are chosen can also go to heaven.

Now I am a fan of Matthew 28 and making disciples and all, but the word there is indeed "disciple", not merely converts. I think many get the two confused. Some one repeating a prayer at the end of a gospel tract doesn't necessarily become a disciple in that instance. But yet, that's usually when we are done with them.

For that's when we get to go back to our congregations and give a report of our success. We get to scratch that particular house off of our "door to door" list. By this, We are merely making converts, not disciples.

A disciple of Jesus is someone who learns to do what Jesus did and tries to follow after the life of Christ, a student of Jesus.

Jesus said, "whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing." Thats not something that happens after one repeated prayer.

A disciple cares about the things Jesus cared about. A disciple participates in things such as Bringing healing to people, feeding hungry people, loving those who hate you, comforting people, and the list goes on.

In other words, a disciple gets to participate in or have a part in BRINGING HEAVEN TO EARTH. Which to me, is an Eschatological event which has been going on since the Resurrection, the inauguration of the renewal of all things.

And that's probably why Jesus thought it was important to go and make "disciples" out of other people. Not to merely to get those people into heaven, but to get heaven into them.

But if all of the loving, caring, justice talk has nothing to do with bringing heaven to earth or ushering in the Kingdom, and has no affect on eternity, then why was Jesus so concerned with it? Why did Jesus teach about the importance of love and justice over and over and over again if just for the hell of it?

Yes, Jesus talked about hell, but not as much and not in the same way as he talked about the poor and loving people.

I hear these types of questions all the time... "what good is it to give a starving person food if you don't tell them about Jesus when you do it?" This assumes you can do no good for the Kingdom unless a gospel tract, which includes the 2 options for someone's eternal destination, is presented along with the good deed.

Well, ask that person who was hungry and now has food that same question. (This reminds me of the episode of South Park when the missionaries handed bibles out to starving, Ethiopian children, who then tried to eat the Bibles that were given to them.)

I believe when we live out the teachings of Jesus, when we love our neighbor, when we love our enemy, that somehow Christ is present whether We mention or acknowledge Christ or not. As Matthew 25 states, "...But when did we see you hungry...?"

Jesus even says that God is in us. "I am in my Father and you are in me, and I am in you."

I believe that what we do now, our actions as well as choices, do matter and do somehow effect eternity and the Kingdom of Heaven, for God is working in us and through us. I don't have to know every single detail of how that works or who says a prayer or what one does once I am gone, I trust God can take care of that and work through obedience. I am simply commanded to love.

I am not saying you shouldn't mention Christ or anything, but I don't remember Jesus saying anywhere that our purpose is to get individuals (especially if everything has already been predestined) into heaven, but rather over and over we are commanded to simply love. That's it.

Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in him.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.


Jack Sutherland said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this. You've expressed many of my thoughts... But with better words.

Jkub said...

Jack, thanks for reading and thanks for the kind words. I am glad it resonated with you.