God is neither “near nor far away.” He is both near and distant. He is everywhere. Near in this place called earth, and distant, in the Universe.

 “Heaven” as the word is used spiritually, and “the heavens” as used in scripture may cause confusion. The “heavens” referenced in scripture are the natural world of ancient thinking, at the level of air, sky, and “dome” around the earth. The Old Testament refers to these natural ideas, but also refers to an unseen, invisible parallel dimension, co-existing, and here, now, but not perceived or perceivable by us humans at this stage of our development.

 “Heaven” has another meaning in scripture: The perfect authority of God fulfilled, ordered, and all in its right relation to God, and with God, glorifying him in perfect expression of praise by the work and life at hand. This latter “heaven” is the one we are to seek now on earth. So Jesus prayed: “thy Kingdom Come, thy Will be Done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

God gave us the authority and freedom of will to exercise that authority on earth. We are in process of learning what that means, and living freely within that will. But Evil has entered the world, and a spiritual battle is underway until Jesus returns to assert full authority over the New Earth, and we join Him in New Bodies, expressing our “human like” identities in perfect “right-ness,” or righteousness. The New Earth will be totally new but our identities will be extensions of the Imago Dei [Image of God], or Imago Christus [Image of Christ], we already bear. All will come to perfection.

 Your unique calling and gifts will now be fully and perfectly expressed. This will be the joy of heaven, and the praise offered to the Father of all Creation. No harps here (except for those born to play the harp for the glory of God!). Too bad for the folks who thought Heaven would be one eternal trip to Hawaii. There will be work to do, but our work will be a blessing and not a curse–another way we express our love and gratitude, and our praise to the Holy and Perfect Creator.

 Christian preachers and theologians have spent so much time on “hell” that they have turned upside down the primary “Good News.” Jesus preached:  “Rejoice. The Kingdom of God is at hand!” If this “KIngdom” or place of God’s place of rulership and authority is so “good” why do we not rejoice and pursue it with single-mindedness? We are not “perfect” but being perfected. We are like children who want a pleasant, even exciting ride, but with no responsibility or participation in the adventure. We are like Herod when he reviewed Jesus’ case for crucifixion: “Entertain me, Jesus. Show me a miracle, and maybe I’ll get aboard.” Luke 23:6-15.

 Generally: Deut. 1:29-33. Kings 2:11-14. Kings 6:17-18. Matt. 22:8-14. The Kingdom begins in the lives (and hearts) of believers. Luke 17:21. Matt. 4:23 and 6:10.

 See also: Dallas Willard, “The Divine Conspiracy.” Amazon Summary

Acknowledgement: Mike Erie, Mariner’s Church, Teaching on the “Our Father” as prayer, 7-15-12.