Revelation 22:2 “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.”
Christian theology gets warped when the focus of God’s primary dwelling place is heaven, not earth. When Christians see their ultimate goal as being with God up in the clouds, they become escapists who ignore the importance of the physical earth in God’s plan of salvation and redemption.
John’s writing in Revelation is from the perspective of someone on earth, and he is being given a vision of the new Jerusalem, the place where God will dwell with His people, the new heaven, and it is coming down to earth.
So the typical perspective on heaven as being a place Christians retreat to, is not what the Bible teaches. In fact, heaven will happen here, on earth, as God renews this earth. His kingdom reign here on earth as already begun. This is often called inaugurated eschatology, or more simply, the beginning of the end is already happening, or the already but not yet. We can already taste this, but it is not yet fully here.
What most of us have is a very weak understanding of heaven. A “take me up into the clouds” view of heaven if you will. And what John’s apocalyptic vision written for us in Revelation teaches is that heaven will be here on earth. Heaven will come down to us here on earth. And when we couple this with what we know about Jesus after His resurrection, and what Paul teaches in 1st Corinthians 15, we know that heaven will be physical.
So what does that mean for the Christian life here and now?
NT Wright, in his book Surprised By Hope describes us stonemasons working on a large cathedral. “The architect and the builder have the great design for the cathedral. The stonemason is just told, ‘You’ve got to carve this bit of stone in this way.’ And the stonemason does that and then later looks up and sees his stone halfway up in the cathedral and thinks, ‘Wow! That’s my little bit up there! And look, I now see how it fits into the greater pattern.’ We are building, like the stonemason, for the kingdom rather than us actually doing the building itself.”
The Christian has an opportunity to reflect the kingdom that is here, and also point toward the kingdom that is coming. We are Easter people who are living on the other side of the resurrection of Christ. He has announced his kingdom, and the hope that life in Christ can bring.
And we live in a Good Friday world, a world full of despair, broken homes and broken families, people lost in sin, and God is asking for the light that lives within us to shout the announcement that the kingdom is here and it is coming.