field_of_dreams3What is heaven? Where is heaven? What does heaven look like? What will it be like?

I think it would look a lot like a passage from Mark chapter 12 where a scribe asks Jesus a question about the commandments of God. “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus tells him, it is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And then, you should love your neighbor as yourself. Two simple, profound, yet incredibly difficult commands to live out. But what if we did?

What if we actually lived out these commands to the fullest. What if we loved God with all that we had? And what if we loved our neighbor as ourselves? What would this world look like? It would look like heaven.

I will guarantee you this, however, it will not look like the world we have witnessed over the past few months. Over these past few months, we have been living in a place so far removed from heaven as we hear about all the hate filled messages. Whether it’s politician’s divisive language within the political ads, the rhetoric that is shared throughout social media which is just multiplying the anger and disgust, or the horrific scenes we are confronted with in the news, we are surrounded by anything but the love of God and our neighbor.

We hear about violence in places of worship, in schools, or even everyday public places. We hear from politicians who are looking for our support, bashing their opponents instead of telling us about themselves and the good they would like to bring to their communities. We hear from people who want to tear people down because of race, gender, orientation, or religious belief. We hear about far too many who have been abused by those in power over them.

The hate must stop. The violence must stop. The abuse must stop. When do we as human beings, stand up and finally and unequivocally say enough is enough! When do we take hold of that line we repeat every Sunday; “Thy Kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven?”

The answer is staring us right in the face. Jesus is calling us today to hear, once again, the greatest commands. Love God, love your neighbor. It’s that simple. When we do that, heaven comes down. The kingdom comes near. We will then see glimpses of heaven right before our eyes. We will see parts of the kingdom being played out for all to see. But we need to play a part in it. We need to be full participants in this kingdom building.

Brothers and sisters, this is wholly possible. With God’s help, we are able to accomplish anything. We can bring the kingdom near by how we act and how we treat those around us. Love conquers all things. Love triumphs over hate. Love hopes all things, endures all things, and believes all things. Love never ends. This is how we bring the kingdom near. Love.

So, if you’re are still thinking that heaven, or the kingdom of God, is something that we wait and hope for after we die, let me tell you something. The kingdom is already, and not yet. Did you catch that? The kingdom is already, and not yet.

The kingdom of God will be coming when the world is recreated. Revelation tells us that the new city will come down and that God is making all things new. The first heaven and first earth had passed away and the new heaven and new earth had come. This is the recreation, when heaven meets earth and all is one. This is the heaven that we talk about so much, even what we imply when we talk about that heavenly feast, when we all join together for the meal. We will celebrate a foretaste of that here this morning.

But the kingdom is also already. Jesus’ message through much of his teaching was that the kingdom was at hand. Wherever Jesus went, he brought the kingdom with him. Wherever people participated in those two commands of loving God and loving their neighbors, the kingdom was at hand. Jesus began his ministry by saying; “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” A proclamation which sets everything into motion.

So, when I hear that quote from Field of Dreams, “Is this heaven?” I am challenged to think, is this really heaven? Could this be heaven? And better yet, am I doing things to help bring heaven here, today? Are you?