Heaven may not be where you think, part 2.

Where is heaven?, you ask. Well, heaven may not be where you think.

Jesus, fully the person of God, stood many times in front of his Disciples and said, “Do you not see who is standing right in front of you?” The point being that this human being, just like them in every way, was also the God who created everything there is and until that moment chose to stay distant from the creation God created. It was God standing there in the person of Jesus. God-come-down.

When God chose to leave his happy house to come down and enter our environment as one of us, something tremendously new began. No longer isolated hidden away in wherever it is that God “hides,” that same God now had to buy bagels where everybody else bought bagels. So if by “heaven” we mean being in the presence of God, well guess where heaven than must be with Jesus amongst us.

For many “heaven” is a place where you have to present credentials in order to get through the gate. There are standards which if not met, deny you entrance to heaven. The problem is, and let us be absolutely clear here; those standards are out of our ability to reach them. For instance none of us live towards others with the Grace God lives towards us and calls us to go and do the same. So. There you have it. Truth be told if heaven is “up there” and we have to buy our way to heaven, we are all left outside the gate. Some people may call this hell, but I can’t go there and I’ll tell you why.

I cannot believe the God who revealed great Grace towards us by coming to live as one of us amongst us would say “Go to hell.” More than that, this is the God who raised Jesus from the dead that you and I put him to because he challenged the gods we make and bow down to, this is the God who said “Hello. You may ease me out of your life but I am not leaving.” That, my friends, is what the Resurrection is all about: the continuing presence of God in spite of our actions. This is a long winded answer to the question about hell. Given all this I do not see how the God we are called to open our hearts to would say “Get lost.” It is called forgiveness and I believe from the core of my soul that forgiveness is what God is about in the Resurrection of Jesus. And let us never forget that God’s presence continued through the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. Let me tell you. No matter where you may be in your lives, no matter how far you may have drifted away, heaven is still here waiting for you now.

So. Maybe the way we enter heaven, if you will, is lighten up our felt need to earn heaven. Maybe what we need to do is open our hungry hearts and knock at the door and enter the presence of the God within us that we deeply seek.

Where is heaven you ask? Right here, Right now. You don’t have to wait until you die. It is your’s to enter right now.

Must I do good to gain a seat in heaven when I die?

I do good to others to gain a seat in heaven!

Many people believe God’s presence must be won by good deeds. In fact, many faith communities still teach this. It is as if you have to buy and pay for God’s abiding presence with you. After all, God can be bribed, right? Or at least so the thinking goes. One can only wonder, then, if we have to earn God’s presence now so that we will be assured of God’s presence with us when we die.

Does this all mean that God is not present with us now while we are alive?  Where is God while we are alive? Not here? Hiding? Asleep? Uncaring? Judging? Are we alone on our journey? That’s it isn’t it. Who cares what happens when we die? There is no God then or now. And if there is, I must earn God’s gracious favor. Utterly alone. Nothing but our own desires, plans, talents, drive. If we are lucky we have friends. But there is nothing else while we are alive. That’s it, isn’t it? Depressing.

If that is what you believe, let me offer you something else. God’s choice to live amongst us as totally one of us in the person of Jesus says something about this thing we call God. It says God chooses to be here. With you. With me. With us.

When Jesus was crucified by our inability to really see who he was, it looked like there was no hope for God’s presence ever again. Gone. For good. Bye bye. Nada! Nice while it lasted.

But God was not finished. God decided to keep coming into our world through your heart and mine if and when we open them up. We say the spirit of a person reveals that person’s presence with us. A spirited conversation is one where two people are present one with the other.

In the same way, God chooses to continue entering our lives through the Holy Spirit which entered the hearts of people who open them up to God’s abiding presence. It happened back then and it continues to happen now. God is present. Many hearts have been touched. “Aha. Now I see what I have sought all along. God is here. Heaven is right here, Right now.