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FIRST-PERSON: Heaven on earth

MADISONVILLE, Texas (BP) — I love preaching about heaven — but hardly in the way that you might expect.

I do not limit it to the place that you go to when you die but what has already erupted on earth due to the salvation that God is imparting to those who trust in Him.

Many churches today exist because of shared lifestyles and interests. People gather with others who are most like themselves. This is true of ethnicity, education, profession and just about anything else that functions as an identifier.

So, when the world sees the local church, the world sees something they can explain in terms much like their communities’ social clubs and affiliations. The church looks more like a common community occurrence rather than a supernatural movement that can only be explained as a work of God as heaven’s outpost on earth and a demonstration of His phenomenal activity.

When Jesus walked the earth, He proclaimed that the kingdom of heaven had come and He commissioned His disciples to say the same (Matthew 10:7). The King had come with power and authority and began to overthrow the dominion of darkness, with every blind eye opened, every deaf ear unplugged, every dance of the lame and every song of the mute.

Jesus gave us a glimpse of heaven as He gave us a glimpse of Himself. Where Jesus is, heaven is there also.

But upon His departure, Jesus poured heaven out upon His people and filled them with the Holy Spirit. By the presence and work of the Holy Spirit the church comes together as a diversely unified body with one hope, one Lord, one baptism and one God (Ephesians 4:4–6).

This is not a programmatic organization, but an enigmatic organism that cannot be explained except that God has brought and is bringing all peoples together as a manifestation of heaven on earth. People who want to know what heaven is like should be able to join you for worship on Sunday with your church family and find out.

While the churches that make up our convention are diverse in just about every kind of category, they are unified together through a shared Savior who has provided the same Spirit for every Gospel-centered, God-glorifying assembly. Consider how you and your church family can reveal the supernatural work of God in your community.

When our congregations begin to see that Jesus is the common denominator who brings all peoples together and truly gather together because of Him, then our world will begin to see the supernatural — heaven on earth. Those outside the faith community will see the extraordinary because there is nothing ordinary about a church filled with peoples from every culture, every background and from every walk of life, assembling as a family for the purpose of loving God by loving one another.

A church who comes together like this does not do so with smoke, mirrors or lights, but by the supernatural awe-inspiring power of God who reveals heaven on earth through a people who look and live like heaven.