Keeping the Faith: How far is Heaven?

mcbrayer

Ronnie McBrayer

Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 12:29 PM.

Jesus never described the gospel as an escape hatch, whereby we can exchange his current world for a spiritual retreat far away. Never. Rather, his gospel was: “God’s kingdom is here! It is now! Heaven has come to earth!” So when Jesus invited his first disciples to “follow me,” he was inviting them to get in on the world-redeeming, evil-conquering, status-reversing, life-transforming movement of God that had invaded planet Earth.

Jesus was inviting his followers to live out (not just pray) the words, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Christ invited us, not to abandon our world that needs restoration, but to become catalysts and conduits of the gracious movement of God in today’s world.

Lately I’ve been using an old Yiddish story from Peter Frost to illustrate this: There was a baker named Morris who had always lived in the same little village. He awoke one morning bored and disgusted with his life. He looked over at his sleeping wife and asked himself, “Why her?”

Rising from bed, he peeped into his children’s bedroom. “Why them?” he muttered and walked out of the house. Looking back at his old tumbledown house from the walkway he was overcome with gloom again. “Why that?” As Morris walked to the village his mood grew darker still: “I’ll never be able to fix up that old house. My wife never gives me a moment’s peace. My children are selfish and foolish. I barely make a living baking bread.”

Then Morris remembered something his rabbi said. “Someday we will all go to heaven,” the old man said, “and there everyone will be happy, content and no one will know trouble or pain again.”

“When will I get to go to heaven?” wondered Morris. Suddenly, he answered his own question: “Now! I will go now to find heaven!” So, instead of walking to the bakery, Morris started off in the opposite direction, the direction the old rabbi pointed whenever he talked about heaven. Off Morris went toward the horizon.

As night fell, Morris took off his boots and pointed them in the direction he was walking, so that when he awoke, he would know which direction to go. He then collapsed into a deep sleep. While Morris slept, an angel came along the same path. The angel stood over the sleeping baker, listening to him snore.



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