In the world in which we live, it is easy to think of life as “here” (on earth) and God’s life as “out there” (out in the heavenly expanse, far away from the reality we know as life). The life of God seems lofty, majestic, beyond our reach. Or, for some of us, it seems down-right boring — bringing to mind popular artistic renditions of angels sitting on clouds, playing a harp. With that picture now forefront in your thinking, I doubt for most, that seems like a life we want to attain.
Now, many of us wouldn’t mind to sit-back and relax. But, after a while, I’m guessing most of us would be bored. The truth of it is, whether we like to admit it or not, we like the mundane things that make up life: eating food, meeting people, learning things, exploring new areas, etc. We like life on earth.
So, why do we think that the life of God — the same God who created all of humanity in his image — has a life so very different from us. Why do we think the life of God is so distant and strange from the life we live here on earth. I think part of the issue is that, because of the separation that came between humans and God when sin entered the world, we have become accustomed to describing life as if God has nothing to do with it. Because of sin, we have pushed God to the corner of reality. But the reality that is described in the Bible is that life was always suppose to be a mingling of the life of God with the life of humanity.
We see this most clearly at the beginning of the Biblical narrative when Genesis describes God as walking with Adam and Eve in the garden — a mingling of God’s life and what we know as “life.” We see glimpses of this reality in Jesus’ teaching in the New Testament. In Jesus’ popular sermon on the mount, Jesus teaches and describes a similar scenario when he says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). A chapter later, Jesus is recored as having taught his disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven… your kingdom come, your will be done ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.” Both of these passages present teachings that point toward the mingling of God’s life with the life of humanity on earth. Specifically, in the New Testament, Jesus calls this mingling of heaven and earth: the kingdom of God.
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus teaches about the kingdom of God. He says, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you (or it can be understood to be saying, in your midst).” What we encounter in Jesus’ teaching here is that the life of God — the kingdom of God — is not found “out there” or “up in the heavens somewhere.” No. Rather, when Jesus comes onto the scene, by the power of the Spirit of God, he reveals that God’s life is found in him — in Jesus. Jesus is the kingdom of God. Jesus is God. He is the Lord of the earth. When he comes to finally judge and bring about a new heavens and new earth (see Revelation 21), the meek — those whoreflect the meek characteristic of God — truly will inherit the earth.
The beauty of the kingdom of God — the inheritance of those in christ — is that it is found in Jesus. We don’t have to wait for eternity to begin exploring that life. We don’t have to wait till eternity to begin living-into and exploring the realities of what it’s like to have God’s life mingling with ours. All we have to do is be united to the life of Jesus and follow him.
This past week, as we read through more of the Israelite’s journey through the desert — to the land of Canaan that was promised to them, we came to this scenario, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders’” (Numbers 13:1-3). In this situation, the Israelites have been promised the land of Canaan, but it has not been fully given to them yet. Yet, God allows them to go into it and explore it before they actually fully inherit it.
As we read this scenario in the journey of the Israelites, let it be a reminder that we too — those who are united and submitted to Christ — have been given an inheritance: eternity with the life of God. But, just like the Israelites, we have not yet entered into the entirety of our inheritance. But, because of Jesus, we have been given access to enter the gate to the eternal promised land. Because of Jesus, we — right now — here on earth — in the life we live — have the opportunity to experience the life of God. Because of Jesus, we can begin to explore the realities of what it is like to live with God. Because of Jesus, we can begin to experience what is to have God walk with us — and we look forward to the day that we see that life in it’s fullest — when we will be face-to-face with God.
Go explore your promised inheritance in Christ!