From a good friend:
Sometimes we speak of “heaven” as the place where followers of Jesus go when they die. Jesus himself spoke of the place he was going to prepare for us (John 14:1-3). Sometimes we forget, however, that in John’s vision on Patmos, believers do not “go to heaven.” Rather, the “new heaven and new earth” come down to us (Revelation 21:1).
N.T. Wright in Surprised by Hope (HarperOne, 2008) maintains that this vision of the resurrection and the new creation should send us out in mission, “directed by the Spirit…to build for the kingdom” (p. 208). As important as the Church is, Jesus did not pray: “Your Church come.” Rather, he taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
The Church is temporary; the kingdom is eternal. The Church is not an end in itself, but is a God-ordained means to a glorious end: the reign of Christ over all creation (Colossians 1:18). The message of redemption is for human beings and all that exists. The nature of God’s Kingdom is a new creation in all of its facets. This is the mission to which Christ calls His Church, the cause bigger than ourselves that demands every ounce of our sanctified effort.
— Gregory Crofford, Ph.D., is director of the Institut Theologique Nazaréen (Nazarene Theological Institute), which is responsible for Nazarene ministerial education in 12 sub-Saharan countries. He lives in Nairobi, Kenya. He recently reviewed Vistas, an NMI mission book relating to the development of Nazarene missions, for Engage.Click here to read it.