Began reading N.T. Wright's book "Surprised by Hope" this past week. Only a few chapters in...but really dig it. A lot of what he's saying so far isn't so much a BRAND NEW idea, but the way he presents them, and the biblical scholarship he's got backing him up...it smells good.
We all recognize the hope that comes from believing that "Heaven" is ultimately going to happen. But for so many, the Christian faith comes down to "doing good stuff until finally we are relieved of this earthly body/world and finally float off to the city of gold". (paraphrased)
For those people...this world and the lives we live here, and how we live in these bodies holds little to no significance. "Surprised by Hope" is a message to a church that is simply waiting for "Heaven" that the KINGDOM IS NOW.
The importance of a bodily (physical) resurrection, that is very much connected to these bodies we live in. The fact that when Jesus rose physically from death, it was the Kingdom of God (the reign and rule of God) breaking through into TODAY. The fact that God will someday restore all things, creating a new Heaven and a new Earth...and connecting these things will be the New Jerusalem (as described in Revelation).....and that it's not so much about the physical description of all these things, as it is the "reign and rule of God" finally....whew. I get a bit excited.
I still have some questions, that he sounds like he will address later in the book. Questions about cremation, about where those who have passed on might be "right now" (which he's already addressed in another book at length), etc...and really looking forward to his words of how all of this transforms our Hope.
But to realize that, beginning with Christ's resurrection, the Kingdom of God has begun "on earth as it is in Heaven"...is definitely to be surprised by Hope. This life is NOT about waiting to die so we can finally get on with Heaven.
It's about joining the reign and rule of God in His redemptive, restoring work where we can. The world we live in is broken and fragile. Feed the hungry, care for the orphan, and for the widow. Visit those in prison. Heal the afflicted. Free the slave. Live from the Spirit in our daily relationships with one another. Love. Forgive.
When we do this, the Kingdom breaks through into NOW. The more we as individuals, and as the Church realize this....the more we can join with God in His work. Now THAT is Hope.
Going Where God Is Moving.
2 weeks ago