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|Heaven on Earth|
Heaven on earth. Everyone dreams about it. Everyone hopes for it with a hope that seems to be embossed on the
hearts of every human being; written there by the God who created us righteous and in His image. What would it
look like, this heaven on earth; this dream our human spirit strives to attain? Artists have drawn pictures of it, lions lying down with lambs. Philosophers have waxed wise about it. Politicians promise its arrival, if only they get elected, of course. From benevolent dictators to earthly monarchs to the dreams of a perfect democracy; from Ponce-de-Leon’s Fountain of Youth to cryogenic technology (all in hopes that you can either live long enough to see heaven come to earth or be thawed when it finally arrives); from the National Socialists to the Communist party; from multiculturalism to a proud nationalism; Republicans, Democrats, TEA, Libertarian and Greens. Somehow everyone thinks they can storm the gates and bring heaven down to earth.
To put an Eight Commandment spin on things, the schemes of men and the agendas of political parties, past or
present, were not necessarily ill conceived nor poorly planned. (Well, maybe some were.) But well planned or not,
those striving to bring heaven to earth were simply up against a cherubim whose flaming sword, which turns every
way, guards the way to that gate to earthly paradise. And so, what always happens? Whoever is elected or appointed,
in spite of whoever usurps power or manipulates the system, what always gets ushered in is a poor excuse for heaven on earth for some folks and quite literally hell for all the others.
Dreams of a heavenly earth stretch beyond the political world, however. If only we could create the perfect family life with compliant, well behaved children, that would be heaven on earth. If only I could get that perfect job (or today, just keep whatever job it is) that would be heaven on earth. If only I could find a safe haven for my money . . . if only I could find (and be able to afford) that perfect sailboat (or whatever it might be for you) . . . if only healing would come . . . if only I had enough to retire and walk out on my responsibilities . . . if only this . . . if only that . . . then we’d be just fine and it would be like heaven had come to earth, at least for me.
Don’t hold your breath, though. Earth may try to storm heaven but it won’t be bringing paradise down any time
soon. But lest you despair, that doesn’t mean we’re hopeless. There is hope, for God created us to inherit eternal life with Him and in spite of sin, God hasn’t changed His mind. God designed us to experience a perfect home in His presence. Our desire for it isn’t wrong. It’s a desire that God has built into us. The problem is, we just can’t create what we so desire to have.
It’s said Mark Twain once quipped, “In the beginning God created man in His image, and ever since then we’ve been
trying to return the favor.” Our desire for heaven on earth isn’t wrong. Our focus is wrong. It’s fatally set upon our own doing and our own activity and our own definition of what heaven ought to be like. We aren’t God. We aren’t the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Only God is the One who can grant us what we so desire.
Does that mean there will never be heaven on earth? On the contrary. God does bring heaven to earth even today. It’s
just that He does so in a way that appears so unspectacular, so unattractive, and so foolish, that, like a diamond in the rough, it’s easily missed. God brings heaven to earth each Lord’s Day and He does it by coming to us - for where He is, His heaven is. Every Lord’s Day He graciously gives us Himself in His most holy supper.
We write it into our liturgy so that we won’t forget it - for it is so easily forgotten - and if it is forgotten, then thoughts of what is truly heaven are replaced with things that only appear to be heaven on earth, things which fail us in our most desperate times of need. Together we say, “with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven.” We say those words not because we’ve always said them, not because we’re stuck in a liturgical rut, not because we don’t have something else we could say . . . we say those words in order to confess to one another and to the world, the fact that heaven is where the body of the Lord has come. And if Christ is with us as He’s promised to be, then all the heavenly hosts must be present, too . . . the angels, archangels and all the saints - living and dead. And all that means
is, though we will never storm heaven’s gates, heaven bursts in on us through the presence of the Lord’s body among
Heaven on earth is attainable, not by political elections, not through victorious living, not through my perfect little family-life, but only where God gives it to us as a gift. Heaven on earth is where the King is enthroned. This Sunday when you come to church, come knowing that in a very real way, you are leaving earth, or rather heaven is coming to you - to give you a taste of the glories yet to come. Heaven that are yours because Jesus, your King has covered all your sins. That is indeed, nothing less than heaven coming to earth.
“This mystery of the body of Christ makes earth become a heaven to you. Open only once the gates of heaven and look
in; no, rather not of heaven, but of the heaven of heavens; and then you will see what I have been speaking of. For what is most precious of all there, I will show you upon earth. For as in royal palaces, what is most glorious of all is not the walls, nor golden roofs, but the person of the king sitting on the throne. So likewise in heaven the body of the King is most glorious. But this, you are now permitted to see upon earth. For it is not angels, nor archangels, nor heavens and heavens of heavens, that I show you, but their Lord and Owner. Don't you perceive how that which is more precious than all things is seen on earth; and not merely seen, but also touched; and not only touched, but also eaten; and after
receiving it you go home?” - John Chrysostom