Heaven, Hereafter, or hereNOW
I have heard a great many sermons in my life that are to tell me what heaven and the hereafter are like. I have heard so many that I now know one thing for certain; no one has a clue.
I do know that if I do not choose Jesus as my Lord and savior I am doomed to eternal damnation and life in Sheol (whatever that is). I do know that I cannot be saved if I am not Baptist, (or Mormon, or Methodist, or Presbyterian, Evangelical or Episcopalian and certainly I don’t have a prayer of heaven if I am not Catholic). This causes a substantial dilemma since I cannot be all of the above at the time of my death. Of course, I will also spend a life in eternal damnation if I am not Jewish, or Sunni or Sikh, or Moslem or Hindu or Buddhist or any of dozens of other religions that inhabit the Earth.
I guess that means that I may resign myself to the “bad” place.
ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
Jesus, as a teacher or Rabbi or preacher or philosopher or son of GOD, holds forth in his hand the ultimate carrot, “Why wait?”
I do not believe that Jesus came and sacrificed himself on a cross to merely extend promises of a fancy divine hereafter. Most religions seem to offer up Nirvana in some shape or form.
What Jesus did was to come and offer us insights as to how we can positively impact the here and now. Jesus taught us how to impact the heaven that lies within our grasp right now, daily, not the after.
Whether Heaven has mansions or refers to new bodies in different times as the Hindu believe (reincarnation) is irrelevant to me. Whether we sing in a divine chorus 24/7 (or whatever time-frame is the physics of heaven) is not as relevant to my living as the promise that I can experience heaven now, as Dennis, as me. It is equally important that you can live it as you.
Is it no wonder that Jesus’ teaching was so radical that most, not even those closest to him, could comprehend His meaning? The Heaven that Jesus prayed for is within our grasp daily. ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, what a radical and impossible dream. LOVE ONE ANOTHER, another impossible dream.
Daily? A fantasy for sure. Jesus has been the object of great debate since the beginning. Those who do not wish to change much look forward to the end of their lives firm in the knowledge (or belief) that the hereafter has the mansion they couldn’t charge here. They look toward a magic place where grace takes them and places upon them a robe of authority or position and extends divine preference based on the sign in front of the building they visited on Sunday morning or Saturday afternoon for an hour or two out their week.
And yet no one can tell me what they will do all day, every day, for eternity. More than that, they wish me to believe that they can perform this function for eternity when they get fidgity now after 60 minutes out of each week in GOD’S own house, which they built with their own money. How do they expect to be satisfied with that heavenly life when a half hour of prayer daily is a challenge. How will they adore GOD every day, all day when they can not accept the Muslim on their knees 5 times daily when they are reluctant to extend thanks at the dinner table with GOD’S blessing of food to eat before them daily.
I do not believe Jesus was about hereafter. All kinds of religion handle the hereafter. What was unique about Jesus was his preaching about the hereNOW.
Jesus did not say to the blind man, “Your sight will be restored in the hereafter”.
Jesus did not say to the lame man, “You will walk on the heavenly shore”.
Jesus did not say, “Kill your neighbor and you will be great in heaven”.
Jesus did not stand before the tomb of Lazarus and yell “Lazarus, have a great time.”
Jesus did ask of his spiritual father, “On Earth as it is in heaven”.
Jesus was about the hereNOW.
The great teachers teach us how to live the here and now. They teach us how to make the best of who we are, appreciate what we’ve been given, share the blessings of our wealth be it physical or spiritual, and enjoy the journey of our living. Jesus says to me, appreciate, share, and enjoy for the Father has tomorrow handled. Whether I play a harp for eternity, or return to this place again and again and again is GOD’S venue, what Dennis Wheeler does with His appointed days is mine. I can live an example of a Jesus or Jimmy Hoffa. I can appreciate all I’ve been given or be driven to power and it’s ultimate corruption. I can share what I’ve been given or horde it until that day when it lies in a yard sale weeks after my passing, or worse yet, is tossed into a dumpster and becomes buried with countless other lives under tons of dirt fill.
The reality of life is the hereNOW, the speculation is the hereAfter.
If GOD was less concerned for us He would not have utilized Jesus to promote a better hereNow. GOD would have left us to the Jewish law, or paganism, or mythology. We would be eternal passers by, the bad Samaritan, the righteous priest or the self focused CEO or CFO.
What if I’m in Heaven now? Do I help its dream, or hinder it? Am I promoter of it, or a thief? Am I an encourager of living or a prospector of dying? What do I feel that Jesus would have me do? If I call myself a Christian, to be true to my Jesus and myself, I should be living the best hereNOW I am capable of. I should appreciate it, share it, and enjoy it as the gift that it is.