DayBreaks for 9/26/18 – The Reality of Now
From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:
John 17:3: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Lk. 17:20-21: The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.
If you are like most of us, we think of heaven as being “out there” somewhere in the future. The place of heaven isn’t so much of a topic for thought as is the time when we shall arrive there. We can easily trust that heaven will not only meet, but infinitely surpass our wildest imaginings. And perhaps that’s why, when life caves in, we long and hunger for it to come soon. I think such things are only normal and natural.
But God has a way of not operating in normal or “natural” ways. And the things that the inspired writers of Scripture captured for us deserve more attention. Jesus, in his own words, says that eternal life is “that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Isn’t that interesting? Heaven is not a particularly a place (although there is such a place), but what makes heaven heavenly is the knowing of God and Jesus which we will experience. And, by the way, it is available, and present, now…not just out there in the future.
The Luke passage is even more stunning: it won’t be something we see coming, this kingdom of God, but it is within us. A kingdom is the place where a king rules, where he lives. We might think of the kingdom of God as being heaven (and that’s not incorrect) but the fact is that God’s rule is everywhere…and His Presence is, believe it or not, within us. That means that His kingdom is also within us…now.
As Mark Buchanan said in Things Unseen: “There is something about heaven that we must grasp, because if we don’t, we’ll miss everything else. We’ll read the music but never sing, study the choreography but never dance. It’s this: heaven starts now.
“Eternity is not primarily a measure of time – chronological time stretched to infinity. It is not first and foremost a place. Eternity is primarily a quality of relationship. It is first and foremost a presence; to know God and Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the one claim Christianity makes that is the most offensive to the world and presents the greatest stumbling block is that there is only one why to God…and that way is belief in Jesus (not in Mohammed, Buddha, or any other person). All a Christian has to do is say, “Christianity, Jesus Christ, is the only way to God,” and you’ll instantly be branded as a closed-minded, bigoted person. But when you understand that eternal life is to know Jesus (as Jesus said in John 17), it makes perfect sense. If eternal life is to know him, if you don’t know him – there cannot be eternal life. Heaven is intimate knowledge, not of something, but of Someone – the only true God and Jesus Christ, the one He sent.
PRAYER: Almighty Lord, we long to know you better, to experience in greater measure and purity the eternal life that only comes from knowing You. Keep us from the pride in our hearts and minds that might tell us that we already know you, guard us so that we don’t stop seeking to learn to know you better each passing day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.