|Heaven is in our hearts|
1 Thess 5:8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
I was at the Ywam Go Fest Conference in Perth in 1992 when Bob Fitts released the Song - heaven is in my Heart. That was 20 years ago as a young kid with the passion for God burning within my heart yet the trials and tribulations of being a gay christian, the humbling experience was God's work of grace in my heart to see God like never before for the next 20 years.
Some of us are so heavenly minded that we are not of much use living down here on earth. Whilst other Christians are so earthly minded that heaven is spoken of in vague and uncertain terms yet they are quick to bring Jesus down to an earthly level where they claim Christ was present everywhere as if He never ascended. There is no certainty of heaven we declare yet we are quick to state categorically that the Holy Spirit is everywhere on earth. We are somehow afraid of what we might find in heaven and left behind on earth.
Ascension is a problem for many Christians for in it lies the certainty of heaven in Jesus Christ, that we too may one day dwell in our heavenly abode whilst many people of faith are left out because they didn't believe in Jesus Christ. It is not sufficient to be aligned with Jesus' love commandments but to believe by faith as the disciples did in Jesus' death and resurrection for their sins.
Yet a theology without heaven (and hell) in mind, is one that is empty, for without the Hope of eternity, there is no hope on earth. For those of us who struggle just to be alive, many a times in hiding due to our sexual orientation, we know we have fought the good fight and we are tired and weak looking forward to a heavely abode where we might rest in the bosom of Jesus Christ. We are fighting the good fight of faith that we may remain firm in our hope in Christ till the end of our lives. It is a Hope that will never dissapoint.
Jesus didn't offer instant riches to those who had sought Him. He offered them a heavenly perspective. They are blessed because in their poverty and lack, in their emptiness of things in their lives, they see Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. It is when we are empty, humbled, with nothing left not even our pride that we can see the risen Christ and our need for redemption. When we loose our ego, our pride, our self righteousness then the grace of God can enter our lives. When you loose everything in your life, heaven becomes your only hope of glory. Being gay is often an emptying experience bringing us to the throne room of God.
When Jesus died and rose again, He had a new spiritual body, a new creation that could seemingly apear anywhere and even go through walls. The disciples saw Him and experienced moments of saying their goodbyes to Jesus and then He rose up to heaven appearing no more to them.
We wonder what would heaven be like, and Jesus showed us that even as He was in process of ascension, in His new heavely body, He was still male. Maybe in heaven, we will still be who we were - either gay or straight but alas not given to marriage.
Christianity is peculiar, in that in no other major faiths is there resurrection and ascension. Death in Christianity is a stepping stone to glory rather than a loss. Our sojourn on earth is but temporary for we will see Jesus again one day in heaven. Our time here on earth is limited so is our pain and sufferings hence we look forward to an eternity of God's grace, our time on earth a short pit stop on our journey Home.
The disciples didn't seem to shed much tears when Jesus went back to heaven, for they knew that they too will follow Jesus one day, lest He comes back before their own deaths. They were a persecuted lot, the Cross remained a constant threat so was much religious persecution.
Yet, the resurrection of Jesus, His ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit giving them a tangible connection to Christ in heaven guided their paths. For many of us in the GLBT community so fearful yet our redemption is to come out of the closet. The disciples came out of the closet because they met the resurrected Christ. There was no more fear, no more crying, but a boldness rooted in the hope of heaven.
Acts 1:9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Today is Acension Sunday and some Christians would concentrate on Christ being still with us, and even in us as we go out to continue on the ministry of Christ on earth. Whilst the essence of Christ remains, He has ascended. The Angels looked down from the heavens and gave a declaration that Jesus is coming back - "I'll be back ...".
Heaven is mentioned 692 times in the bible. It is part of our faith, something we hope for, yet not seen. We believe, because Jesus came from heaven to tell us the story of redemption and the way to heaven. We have The One who had returned from the dead to tell the story and His name is Jesus Christ.
a. Heaven is where we will be with Jesus.
b. Heaven is where we live forever.
c. Heaven is in a spiritual dimension
Jesus became the proof needed of its existence and power. He came through that divide between earth and the heavens and stayed with mankind for 33 years. It is God coming from the other side to visit us and not we visting heaven. We have a connection to the Heavens where God resides - it is through the Holy Spirit of God.
We are made of mind, body and Spirit. Our different Christian Spirituality have different emphasis on the body of humanity, intellectual reflection of the mind, and on the spiritual matters. We take the spiritual realm so casually as though they don't exist. Some say that gays are particularly spiritually sensitive which is true especially when we can put aside our strong intellect.
The reality of heaven is in the spiritual domain beyond mind and body. With the fall of Satan down to earth, there is an overlap in the physical and spiritual dimensions with access points and portals going in between. One day at the end of times, the access will be sealed to hell. Jerusalem is one of the portals to heaven - a staircase to heaven without a spiritual hindrance of demonic forces.
We are spiritual beings that may transcend beyond the physical into the spiritual realm even to the heavens. The Holy Spirit gives us the keys to the heavens. The speaking in tongues in the Christian faith is a spiritual language going beyond the mind and speaking into a spiritual plain.
Rom 6:22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As people of faith, we don't really own ourselves. We belong and are owned by the spiritual dieties we worship. As people of faith, who we have faith in, is who owns and have control and domain over our lives. Just as in the past, where a god would be the patron god over a city, in the kingdom of God, we are under the covering and protection of Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God has come to earth because in Christ, there is a bridge between the heavens and the Kingdom of God on earth residing in the hearts of those who confessed their faith in Jesus Christ.
Some christians are quite sentimental seeing jesus everywhere in every situation when He is in heaven at the right hand of God. However, Jesus is very near to us if we can indeed discern the spirit of God. When we are filled with the Spirit of God, the same power in christ is available to us. We become little christ, the arms and feet of Christ for heaven is in our hearts if we would indeed discern the voice of God.
Matt 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Jesus is retuning back again when the Gospel message of redemption in Christ is spread throughout the earth including good news to gays that Jesus loves and accepts them just as they are. Gay or straight isn't entry requirements to heaven but our faith in Jesus.
Heaven awaits us for Jesus is coming to bring us Home to our heavenly abode. The declaration of the Angel in Acts 1:9 that Jesus would come back likewise from heaven in the Mt of Olives in Jerusalem at the end of times. There are portals to heaven for which Jerusalem is but one. When we lift up Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, in our praises and worship, in our own lives, we become a temple of God, a highway to heaven. The portals can be places or people.
Heaven is not on earth, but part of heaven is in our hearts if we indeed commune with the Holy Spirit of God who leads and guides us in the way of Christ, the way of God's love, grace and mercy. The yearning for many gay christians is to return home where the battle for our faith is over and we still be found standing firm for we already have found heaven in our hearts.
Heaven Is In My Heart lyrics (bob Fitts)
O, heaven is in my heart
The kingdom of our God is here
The presence of His majesty
And in His presence joy abounds
The light of holiness surrounds
We are a temple for His throne
And Christ is the foundation stone
He will return to take us home