This coming Sunday, we reach the very end times. Probably not literally, but what we will do is finish our Sunday run-through of ‘God’s Big Picture,’ the story of the whole Bible in eight chapters.
I’m delighted that Ian Paul, popular theological blogger at psephizo.com, will be joining us to tell the last past of the story, in which the horizon stretched out towards eternity, and in which the ‘kingdom of God’ is finally made perfect.
It’s so hard to imagine eternal life! To children, the idea of something going on forever sounds boring. To those advanced in years, it often sounds like a wonderful respite from the constant changes of this life. But what is it really like?
As it happens, the New Testament gives us less detail about heaven than we might like. Jesus did say that human relationships will work very differently in eternity (Matt 22:30), and that it will be a festival (Rev 19:6-8). We also know that there will be no more tears (Rev 21:4). But, I’d like to know so much more!
Jesus, however, had a different priority. Instead of providing that kind of detail, he gave some practical advice. He explained how people could live now to prepare well for eternity. Again and again, he directed people away from storing up resources for themselves. He told a story about a rich man whose stored up his wealth for himself to enable early retirement, but who died and to whom God said, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and your possessions will belong to someone else’ (Luke 12:16-21).
Material investments can help us in this life, but there are other investments that better prepare us for eternal life, and these all focus around Jesus:
- Treating the poor as well as if they were Jesus himself (Matt 25:34-40)
- Giving time to drinking in the water that Jesus provides (John 4:14)
- Preferring Jesus even to our own homes and families (Matt 19:29)
As we turn our thoughts towards about eternal life, and try to imagine as best we can what it will be like, it really amounts to thinking about Jesus. No surprise there, then, because he is the central focus of the kingdom of heaven, of our future lives for all eternity:
"The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him… They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever." (Rev 22:3-5)
For ‘the end times’, as in every area of theology, Jesus himself is the centrepiece and the highest point. We’re looking forward to some good theology this Sunday, and good theology always leads us to worship.