'If God were to end history and reign forever in a distant Heaven, Earth would be remembered as a graveyard of sin and failure. Instead, Earth will be redeemed and resurrected. In the end it will be a far greater world, even for having gone through the birth pangs of suffering and sin-yes, even sin. The New Earth will justify the old Earth's disaster, making good out of it, putting it in perspective. It will preserve and perpetuate Earth's original design and heritage."
-Randy Alcorn, Heaven
After a year of hearing friends sing the praises of Randy Alcorn, I finally found one of his books at the local library. I bought Heaven is for Real as a Christmas gift for a family member, and I thought reading Heaven would be a nice accompaniment to it. On a more random note, I always get this song stuck in my head every time I pick up the book. But I digress...
This book gives me a lot to think about in terms of life after death as a Christian. So far, the biggest impact for me has been the idea that Heaven and Earth will not be separated when Christ comes. Alcorn sites Revelation 21 to support this argument: that God's dwelling place will be with man and that God, instead of destroying the Earth, will redeem it with His presence (Alcorn does argue that there is a sort of intermediate Heaven where Christians who die before Christ's coming will dwell until His return). It made me think of the "already, but not yet" principle we would always discuss in my theology classes: how God's Kingdom is here through the Church, but not fully here until Christ returns. Doesn't it make sense that when Christ does return, instead of destroying all that He has enabled his Kingdom followers to do, he fully redeems it, taking away all the sin and pain that comes along with life as we know it?
Kind of makes all of our actions here on this Earth a little more important, doesn't it? We can't stop taking care of the Earth if it isn't going to pass away. We can't become separatists. We need to be engaged in Kingdom activity on this Earth because it will always be our home. This perspective has led me to pray a prayer that Alcorn encourages all believers to pray in light of Christ's return: Lord, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17) All those little and big efforts we put forth for the Kingdom of God and His glory will not pass away, but be redeemed when Christ comes back. That is so encouraging to me as I stumble along, trusting God and doing what He leads me to do.