Earth is our home and, knowing full well we could never ascend into the heavens, God has come down. Never-the-less, many Christians still think (due to popular media) that the end-game is to hoist our bums onto galactic seats.
The goal of the Gospel is clear. “Thy Kingdom come”, not “Thy Kingdom go…”. The meek, we are told, will inherit the earth – not a fast chariot into the Milky Way. Heaven is God’s throne, but the earth He has given to the sons of men (Psalm 115:16).
All of these promises should give us great encouragement. We were made for the earth and at the resurrection, the earth will be our inheritance. A redeemed earth. An earth in which Heaven has come down and is fully present in the Man, Jesus Christ.
In his book, Orthodoxy, G. K Chesterton tells the story of a man who sets sail from England to bravely discover new worlds.
Because of a slight miscalculation, he winds up on a beach which he considers must be part of a strange new land. There he triumphantly plants the British flag in that barbaric temple which turns out to be the Pavilion at Brighton.
Chesterton then asks the question, “Should this man be pitied or envied?”
Some think our sailor friend should be pitied. After all, what did he achieve by sailing in a circle? Chesterton thought he was a man to be envied.
Chesterton goes on to admit that he was that sailor. He says that his searching ended when he found all his longings satisfied in the Gospel that had been gathering dust beside his bed.
“What could be more delightful”, Chesterton said, “than having in the same brief moment, all the fascinating terrors of going away combined with all the security of coming home again?”
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Like this man, the Christian life is one of sailing out to a new world. But we are not heading off into the never-never. We are with God, who delights to ride upon the storm with us as we make our way from home, back home.
The terror is our brief moment of death. But what follows is a resurrection and all the security and satisfaction of coming home. This home.
This was Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonian church who were grieving over loved-ones lost (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). Will we see them again?
Yes, you will, says Paul. They will return with Jesus when He has put the last enemy (death, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23-26) under His feet.
And so we read,
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep… and so, we will always be be with the Lord. Therefore, encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 17-18)
Many believers are afraid to admit that they like it here. They have been told to forget earth, that heaven is the destination and this world is doomed. But in truth, the idea of heaven makes them homesick.
They are afraid to say out loud that, while they don’t want to go to hell, they also don’t really want to leave this earth either. They want to stay here. They like it here. This is home.
And so it will be. The New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven will be our home (Revelation 21:2).
And when this happens, God will be our neighbour. Heaven and earth will become one and we will live, play hockey, read, eat fish and drink tasty wine with the Son of Man and with all of those who have fallen asleep in Christ.
Life with Christ our neighbour, here in the world He loved enough to die for, is our destination.
Does the thought of leaving here for heaven make you homesick? Look out your window. Everything you see will one day be given to the saints. Renewed, restored, redeemed – for you.
This is home and God has secured it for our joy and for all eternity through the death and resurrection of Jesus.