Heaven and hell isn’t the ultimate question

If I could get every American conservative Christian to read Surprised by Hope, it would be mandatory reading.

Wright forces my thinking away from what I thought was the ultimate question: Who is going to heaven or hell? (And, did God send them there or did humans choose?)

Maybe we’re asking wrong questions, and this is what stirs me reading this book again. I need to understand what the ultimate questions are, and be willing to surrender my old thinking. Maybe the question isn’t about who is going to “make heaven” and how. Maybe the question is how is God going to redeem and renew his creation through human beings and how is he going to rescue those humans themselves as part of the process but not as the point of it all.

I need my life aligned with HIS ultimate goals, not mine.

Is life HERE important?

Reading for today:

Psalm 101, 109, 119:121-144
Gen. 50:15-26
1 Cor. 12:1-11
Mark 8:11-26

There is a reason we are here. There is a reason we are still here even after we are “saved.” It’s not about “getting to heaven” alone.

“We are put here on earth and we are given bodes so we can work to bring more good into existence.” — Dallas Willard, Life Without Lack 


That which we do not know

One thing I admire about C.S. Lewis is his full candor when dealing with skeptics. He won’t tolerate “bumper sticker” answers from anyone, but especially those who do not believe and ridicules those who do.

In his chapter on heaven in Mere Christianity, he wrote this:

There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of ‘Heaven’ sound ridiculous by saying they do not want ‘to spend eternity playing harps’. The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them.


The Challenge of Heaven

Surprised by Hope is full of surprises for me. It is an incredibly tough book to digest and process. I love NT Wright, and one reason I love his work is he takes me to the mental and spiritual mat time and time again.

We need things in our lives that challenge us.

Someone saw my “Minnesota Public Radio” sticker on my car recently and basically sniffed at it. “If you knew the things they supported.”

Well, I’m “sniffed at” a lot. (I think I need to rework that sentence…)

If we only take in what we agree with, we need to remember the line: “If both of us agree on absolutely everything, one of us isn’t necessary.”

So… I read Wright because I admire his work, even if I don’t agree with all he says.

But he really challenges the notions we’ve had in the West of heaven. And he doesn’t leave any prisoners. He is as hard on universalists as he is on fundamentalists. Makes it kind of fun, in that respect.

But we DO need to ask some very tough questions of ourselves. Maybe if we weren’t so consumed with the question of who is “in” and who is “out” we might find a tougher question to ask, but one that is more relevant. Maybe we need to ask how God is going to redeem and renew his creation through us? Maybe if we ask THAT question, we’ll find we have something to actually do in our lives. The destination may not be the point. God transforming life may be the point. This seems to be what Wright is aiming us at in this discussion.

We need a larger vision in our lives. Far beyond buildings and bucks and … umm… that other thing… in the seats… (I really need to do some editing).

The larger vision is God’s vision of transformation. He is doing something new, something powerful. HE is Lord… not us. Should we not be paying attention to his instructions?