Monday, November 26, 2012


 John 20: 19-29                                                                                                               March 30, 2008

INTRODUCTION: This story is often used to say that Thomas' faith, which seems to need physical evidence, was inferior to the others who only 'saw' Jesus. Thus he has been Called 'doubting Thomas' through the centuries. If that is what the author meant to teach, what does that mean for us now? It would mean that any person since those days right after Jesus' death who have the same temperament of Thomas,(They need to have physical evidence for most of their decisions and beliefs. Wouldn't that be most of us modern folks?) is incapable of any faith in Jesus at all. For to have faith like Thomas would mean to have sufficient evidence for it. But no one since those ancient days has been able to physically see or touch Jesus. So most modern people could not be people of belief. (some might argue this is precisely why there is not more belief, not enough evidence to support it.) This would seem very unfair and few would accept such a conclusion about the lessened likelihood of present day people being believers.
I think this observation could set many present day people free to understand that believing is not at all about having physical evidence. Neither is it necessarily believing what someone else tells you about Jesus.(Thomas did not believe based on the other apostles' reports.) Physical or reported evidence were not the basis for believing then nor is it now. Perhaps this author does not at all have Jesus saying that Thomas' faith involving physical proof was less than those 'who believe without seeing or touching' but that any real belief is never based on such physical evidence. This could be a profound thing to learn for most present day Christians. Because we are such 'evidence based' people even when it comes to our ideas of faith. This observation may change the very nature of faith as it is usually described and as most of us have been taught. And it is fascinating that this idea may have been precisely the intentional deeper message this highly creative gospel writer intended to teach. Here are some practical implications of the nature of such belief, whether of the original believers or ours.

  1. Belief, which in John is not an intellectual agreement to some physical fact but a trust and confidence in Jesus being alive and active, is what is important -not how we come to have it.
In the final analysis belief or trust in God is something that God gives, not something that we can conjure up by our own effort and intellect and examining a body of evidence. It has truly never been something that can be proven by physical sight or physical touch. This is true now but it was also true then(there should be no such then vs now gap. That is of our own making.) It is spiritually always the nature of belief. The story says that Jesus 'appeared' to them. One says he appeared even though the doors and windows where he could have physically entered were closed. The effective teaching of the story taken spiritually is that belief arrives not by literal seeing or touching but by mystery, by gift , by one's heart awareness and assurance, by spiritual seeing and touching.
Please do not misunderstand. As humans our physically touching loved ones and friends with their permission and also our physically, sensitively and appreciatively seeing other humans is a profoundly important experience. One that we likely need to value as far more serious and precious than we often do. Such physicality with others perhaps has much to do with our coming to believe in God. But this story is given to us now, people who have never experienced physically seeing or touching Jesus. And it is given to help us to know him in a deeply spiritual way. This may have been the way also how those who did touch and see him physically when he was alive came to 'believe' he was alive even after he was killed on the cross and buried.

When we casually read this story through the eyes of 21st century people influenced by science and recent centuries of acquired objectivity, we get the idea that belief is something that one comes to have by some kind of tangible , material proof. We tend to force that which is spiritual into being something physical. This is why many modern Christians crave such proof, whether finding Noah's ark, a burial shroud or a statue of Mary that cries literal tears or an image of Jesus in a potato chip.

The story is best understood as the ancient writer seeking to explain how these grieving, disappointed, hopeless followers of Jesus became convinced that He was not dead but still with them. That meant that his love for them and his goal for a just world where all were equally valued was also still alive. As our song says, “He lives within my heart”. That is the faith, the belief, the trust that the author of these stories is explaining. So belief comes by heart, not physical, seeing and by being spiritually touched, not physically touching God. Any person who believes that The Christ is still alive in his/her world has been blessed by God by a gift of God. There is no such thing as an inferior belief in God if we understand that it means to be convinced in one's insides that the Spirit of Jesus, of God, is real and alive. And that that living reality is to be trusted and acted upon. That belief can be our motivation to live 'the way' Jesus lived with the values that Jesus had.

  1. Two results, according to John's story, are to be expected from such a belief in Jesus
1. Peace. Twice Jesus says to these beleaguered and losing friends of his. 'Peace be with you'.
He does not declare them winners over other humans or superior to others because they believe. He simply says the gift that goes with belief is being at peace with life and with yourself and not at war with life, yourself, with God or with others anymore. That all is well with your soul.
2. The willingness to use the power of forgiveness in all your relationships. Not the power to change people or to control others or to prove things about God to others. But the power and the desire to forgive others as you absolutely know you are forgiven of any and all errors.

CONCLUSION: So we need not, and should not, take this story to sit in judgment on the quality of Thomas' belief and love of God , any more than we should make such judgment against anyone else. The point of the story is that all belief comes not as the result of physical seeing then or now but by the heart sensed presence of God. Belief is the result of the impact of the Spirit of God upon the individual and upon the community of believers. The story is a tool for us to better 'see' with our heart and 'touch' with our understanding that Jesus is alive. He is alive in our own time and in our own heart; in the very same way he was with the first believers, not in some different less or more miraculous way. And because of this spiritual reality modern people potentially can still carry a living hope that Peace and Forgiveness will one day be the norm of human life and communities throughout the world. Amen.

Note: Since writing this sermon I've become acquainted with the second century Gospel of Thomas found in the Egyptian desert 70  years ago but only in recent decades  fully made public. This shows that very early there were different ways that sincere early Chritians interpreted the role of Thomas. A very good  introduction to the Gospel of Thomas is Beyond Belief, the secret gospel of Thomas  by Princeton professor  of religion Elaine Pagels.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


The letter to the editor below was seven years ago. The recent lethal outbreak between Hamas in Gaza and Israel  sustain the point of the letter. If a clearer and truer view of the perennial world threatening conflict between the Arab people and Israel is not found, there is little hope of a peaceful world. This conflict serves as a model of either world destruction or world hope in our day.
Hezbollah and Israel Cross Blame For The Slaughter..Nov 2005

Here We Go Again.* The world is rightly anxious as Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon raise the stakes of war. As one listens to the news and to President Bush the focus is only on what has happened in recent days as the explanation for present violence. President Bush forcefully states that the, "easiest way for there to be peace is for Hezbollah to lay down its arms". His logic, and that of most American voices including the media, is centered squarely on the recent( It’s always the latest outbreak that gets attention.) events: Hezbollah’s kidnapping of several Israeli soldiers and its initial terrorist rocket attacks followed by Israel’s response. President Bush , more than any other world leader, goes out of his way to state clearly that the USA is more on the side of and understanding of Israel compared to any of the Islam countries or groups involved.
Arab Youth Joins Hamas In Hate of Jews... Nov 2012

When will the big powers, especially ourselves, take the long view and serious look at the dynamics that underlie every flare up of violence between Israel and Arab countries? Until those ongoing dynamics that effect justice and fairness are taken seriously, by the rules of basic human psychology and sociology, such episodes have to keep happening. Each event also threatens to draw others into the violence where brave soldiers and innocent victims are the immediate ones to lose.

A pivotal point in that long range view is when world powers did what was right and necessary to give Israel(one side of this ancient conflict) its own homeland in 1946 and started demonstrating its interest in Jewish well being and security. This was partially by arming them and giving unprecedented amounts of continuing financial aid. Then nor since has a comparable effort been demonstrated showing equal concern and support for the same human and national needs that Arab/Islam people also have. With that dynamic reinforced every time there is trouble in the area, the experience of injustice and the message of being less of a people festers even at an unconscious level in the Arab mind. Such a dynamic assures the psychological and religious result that someone from the discredited side will play the part of hateful avenger. Whatever group that happens to be, presently it is Hezbollah, we will call them terrorists which is what they are. But that kind of reaction, that in a sense is in behalf of the whole Arab world, is destined to reoccur again and again. We let ourselves think things are OK during extended periods of little terrorist activity. Those are the days when we should be thinking, acting, and communicating with both sides of the conflict and building an authentic framework of fairness and justice.
These Maps Make Clear The Palestinian View Point Of Justice Denied Since 1947.
If only there could be a moral, psychological and spiritual awareness of the motivating power of these historic dynamics by an American leadership! That new perception would lead to very different analysis, words and actions; ones that are in tune with this enlightened perception could emerge that would break this deadly cycle and likely win global support. The world would experience a refreshing wave of truthfulness, authenticity and desire for justice for all. That collective experience alone is what can diminish hate and the soil from which terrorism comes. I wish many people could see this as what to long for, work toward and to pray for. Jim Hibbett
* The reader may be interested in this post also.

  • Francie Davidson Staggs You're right. I want to point out also that the history of the Israeli-Palestine conflict has its roots in the late 19th century, turned violent in 1920 and as you noted continues to the present day. I compiled a report stating that the conflict actually started in Old Testament times between Abraham's sons Isaac and Ishmael and their descendants.
  • Jim Hibbett That is right. It is important that today anyone who would intervene in the conflict, like we and others have, to be fully fair and even handed to both parties. I dont think the record shows that to be the case. My guess this partly comes from the Biblical notion of Israel being God's chosen, so to this day Christians are pron to not approach both of Abraham's sons equally. This is the same mistake the Bible story says that Abraham made, sending the Hagar and Ishmael away to be alone in the wilderness. But God came and honored Ishmael with a blessing just as with Isaac. That is what this situation still requires if there is to be an actual godly approach to both.
  • Francie Davidson Staggs I had forgotten about God blessing Ishmael and his descendants. If I recall, in the Quaran we can find that Muslims aren't to have anything to do with Christians and Jews. We hear that the Muslim world calls us "infidels." Would making everything equal and just between Israel and the Arab world change the course of history? I can understand the concern both with Israel and the United States with what is going on in the Middle East. If we give Palestinians equality and fairness and justice with Israel, will that make them like and respect us? I understand the Godly approach that we should take in the matter. But, I also know that taking the Godly approach with a group who dislikes Israel and the U.S. could turn on us in a violent way. Perhaps as a nation, we should start with being just with Native Americans. We took their land away from them. Survival of the fittest! And, as for me, I do want Israel and the United States to survive!!!
  • Jim Hibbett To be in touch with the richer message of Christ we would expect to require a far greater trust(faith) in humanity than we would ever arrive at just from our own human observations and self interest. I think the observations made in this discussion of Israel, Palestinians and native Americans demand us to examine ourselves as a nation and be able to see honestly our own shadow in our dealings with others. And to not rationalize that wrong historical choices do not bring certain unwelcome consequences. This is the first step to any more far reaching application of the what the New Testament has Jesus call the 'gospel.' Jesus even says at the deepest level and where the gospel would have it greatest transforming effect a 'dying to self' as we see it is necessary in order that something more splendid might be created. (This is more often a spiritual/psychological death than physical.) This is the nature of 'trust'(faith) described in the original Jesus gospels. Is the world now needing such a trust to be realized by someone(s)? If so , who will it be? What is the cost in our world today if such trust is not born in some human hearts? I doubt any of us can confidently say, 'yes I have such trust.' Did ones like A.Lincoln and Martin Luther King possibly demonstrate such world changing and correcting trust in their moment of history? To acknowledge the world's need and our own, and our forebears, serious imperfections must surely be a correct step in the right direction for finding the capacity to make trusting and world-changing choices. I think this is the nature of what confronts us regarding the Israel-Palestinian Threat to themselves and the world.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


What I wish Christians could escape, and I realize it is hard to do, is the strongly held belief that  'they' are necessarily superior in  any way whatsoever in their offerings to others as others are to them. This is in regard to friendship, fellowship, knowledge, example of godly living,  behavior and the potential of  shared learning from each other. Such superiority is a very subtle  but deadly spiritual  reality that  'believers'  frequently carry in their heart of hearts, even if denied when questioned.  I can recount the very  situations where I have seen this clearly in myself.   I am  sensitive to it and repelled  and saddened by it in myself or others.  This  common subtlety is  primarily unconscious  and sadly prevents a person from  experiencing and practicing the kind of love they desire to feel and  act with toward others.  I have experienced such in my own attitudes and behaviors and of such judgment coming  at me from numerous  Christians. I also see a constant public parade of it that does not involve me personally.

And yet no religious person, which I believe is every human, can ever escape this ever present spiritual danger.  Jesus identified the deeply religious pharisees as carriers of such a superior attitude yet are pictured as totally unconscious of their spiritual poverty. (There were surely some pharisees who were not this way but, because of their social/religious position and  belief  that morality was primarily about outward social/ritual  behavior, easily fell into it.  The gospel writers are likely engaging in some serious stereotyping regarding the pharisees but their point of such a reality is not debatable.)  Surely the very same reality exists today at the center of  religious claims of certainty and morally superior ground.
Jesus Interacts With The Scrupulous Self -Righteous  Pharisees.

 Most Christians are ostensibly opposed to hypocrisy but what is not personally  clear to many  is that they are easily  hypocrites themselves. Certainly until  we have genuinely discovered these formerly unknown (unconscious) realities in our own personal lives. This can be negative judgments and bigotries toward broad groups of other people. It is also often directed towards oneself causing strong self inflicted guilt. It is hard for anyone in our culture to really believe, in spite of Freud and Jung, that what is 'unconscious' is truly 'unconscious'--we do not know it's active features are there.  Many simply live with no real conviction that anything is unconscious to them.  They identify their present consciousness with  near total self knowledge when it is only the tip of the iceberg. A true religious attitude today demands we be very aware of the reality of the 'unconscious' but much of today's religion is ignorant of the concept and likely  think it un-Christian to take it seriously.
Jesus Taught To 'Clean The Inside Of The Cup.'

I know of few things  that bring in this kind self knowledge about ourselves as directly as some kind of  intentional individual or group psychotherapy. The teachings of  Jesus certainly point to this central spiritual reality and no doubt it has been a part of Christian training through the centuries. Jesus charged the religiously zealous to 'first clean the inside of the cup then the outside will take care of itself.' (my paraphrase) That was strongly  my experience beginning about  thirty years ago.  Teaching that is  'head and  reasoning'  based, so central to Western sensibilities, does not usually touch a person at such deep inner levels. Moments of worship and sacrament certainly can potentially  raise such  a higher consciousness as well as can moments of  unexpected personal  honest sharing in human conversation.

This darker aspect of personal life  is the area that is known in  depth psychology as ones  'shadow' and assumes , I think very correctly, that we all have this as  part of our personality.  Much of  the ancient religious literature including scripture was  originally inspired to point  people to the inner  knowledge of that part of themselves; thus the emphasis upon 'repentance'-especially meaning to 'see others and world  differently than we did  before'  and 'confession' as a natural product of such spiritual awareness. Such unpleasantness discovered in oneself is heart rending and not easily forgotten. It does not make one think they are necessarily  'bad' in comparison to others thus lowering healthy self esteem. It simply  makes them more fully join the human race and they see clearly that what they judge and doubt in others is most often very present in themselves. Thus they no longer put anyone on a pedestal, have few if any human heroes, for they know that the shadow they have detected in themselves is present in all others as well, whether conscious or not.  Such awakenings  bring a personal spiritual transformation. 
Artistic Portrayal Image Of The Negative Shadow Side.

This is a kind of transformation that would set one free from the illusion of one's moral superiority over others. I wish I believed that such self knowledge was still common in typical Christian communities. I don't think it is. I think we are taught so much to identify ourselves with all things positive that we are genuinely blind to our very real negatives and doubts. I don't think leaders of Christian communities in general are seeking to  help others, or themselves, have such experience. It is more common that people are taught that  "Jesus paid it all' and that whatever unknown sin we have is taken care of without any effort on our part for such digging around in the gutter. But where it is not experienced  and unburied there  simply has to be very strong and living judgment and superiority, acknowledged or not,  toward others; especially ones who are 'different' in some way. In other words, the personal shadow that one is not conscious of he will always 'throw or project'(unconsciously) onto others. This is the meaning of scapegoating which the Hebrew Bible reminds us of in the ancient ritual by that name.  Thus are explained the atrocities, both personal and collective toward each other,  that still characterize  post-modern humankind.

 Jungian thought explains to us that the shadow, though truly menacing, is also essential for fuller spiritual development. Rather than to be cast out, which is impossible, it needs to be more consciously accepted and integrated. Important aspects of life can only be experienced by means of ones shadow. Only when  unconsciousness of the shadow  is understood as the only underlying truly deadly sin  can humankind  expect  to be lifted  up individually and collectively  by our  religious experiences and practices.   Jim H.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Some Bible stories present timeless experiences of human beings through all ages. Experiences that we all can allow ourselves to identify with and use as guides in our individual and collective journeys. When we see ourselves in others' stories, only then have we managed to make good use of Sacred text. As long as it is only someone else's story there is a high risk that it quickly becomes to us a 'so what.' I find the story of Hannah to be timeless and a potential spiritual resource for each of us. Listen to the story of Hannah.(Scripture Reading: I Samuel 1:4-20, 2:1-10)

Hannah Praying
The story shows two quite opposite very human inner experiences. The first is a deep longing and yearning that can place one in moments of spiritual despair. The second is a state of indescribable jubilation and joy. Of course we would welcome the second of these but perhaps the story tells us that before such celebratory joys must come times of agonizing need and longing. Hannah was distraught that she had been barren. It continued year after year. In our day many women who long to have a child suffer deeply when they are unable to. Medicine has developed in vitro fertilization and other therapies that often help a woman to become pregnant. But time or technology can never erase the significance of the longing for a child which never seems to come.

In Hannah's culture a woman was scorned and teased unmercifully if she did not bear children. Child bearing was practically the litmus test for being a full woman. We know now that is not so and there are many completely  fulfilled women who do not bear children . Hannah specifically yearned for a child so that, for her, life would be complete and a highest meaning of her life realized.

What can we learn from this about our own spiritual lives? It is informing us that humans can typically discover times when he/she has such a deep longing for some kind of specific need or situation of life. The implications are not just about a woman desiring to be a mother but a spiritual experience anyone can have. Most every human at some time in life becomes aware of what seems like something important that  is needed but missing. A person is fortunate if they realize what it  seems to be that is so deeply needed. Then like Hannah ones life becomes a prayer for this missing aspect of life to come into reality. The story says should we be so moved by deeply felt need that we are permitted and encouraged to take it seriously. Some will say, 'Oh count your blessings. You just think you need that. Get over it.' But not Hannah. Her husband's love was strong and deep for her. He so hated to see her suffer in her deep unfulfilled yearning. But he stopped short of putting her down or taking her yearning as somehow a rejection of him. There are times in human life when even our dearest loved ones are no substitute for that deep yearning. If you ever find such a fire burning in you , you might use this story to help you not give up on your dream. You can be like Hannah.

Often a young adult feels pressure to answer society's question, “What are you going to do?” It can be most miserable to have to say in honesty , ' I just don't know. I have many interests.' Such a young person can use this story as a spiritual help. It reminds them that it can become true for them that something will come to their awareness that truly becomes a searing flame for what they wish to do. We should not give up or be discouraged if we do not have  such a present clear focus of yearning. In many periods of life we are carrying out the activities of the details of  some desired goal that has already come into reality. We don't need the Hannah experience in such times. But very likely at another time we again will need the Spirit's prompting and challenge of a new longing. Then we can join Hannah  in praying for the way to open to our new vision. The Hannah experience may be once in a life time or many times.

As a youth I had no strong interest in the family sporting goods business. I was good at saying 'May I interest you in a pair of sweat socks?', but the office machines and accounts receivable files I knew were not my thing. I can think of  twice in my life when I felt the urgency of  a Hannah kind of experience. One was not  until I was approaching forty years old. I can recall suddenly being aware that I needed more specific training for ministry and saw no way I could get it at my age and with a family to feed. So I nurtured that need and allowed myself to take it seriously as part of  a Spirit nudging me. And eventually in ways I would not have ever expected was able to receive what I needed and do the ministry I felt called to.

I would imagine that often what we think we need turns out taking a different form in reality than how we had first prayed. With Hannah it seems her needs were literally met nearly exactly as she imagined them. But keep in mind the symbolism of this sacred story can be taken that we all wish to 'give birth' to what fulfills our life. And there is just as much jubilation when we are shown a different path than  what we first imagined. We many then see that the altered path  fits our deepest longing in  surprising  new ways. But no fulfilling  path can  be found unless we take seriously our yearning as best we can 'see' it. Remember that Jesus prayed for exactly what he needed but also knew the wisdom that says, 'But thy will be done.”

This all makes me think of prayer as not begging God to do something for me but more simply admitting to myself and God how deeply I feel some particular need. Hannah's story is not really instructing us about when life deals us such a  blow  we wonder how we are going to get through it , such as the loss of a loved one. That also deserves our prayerful attention. Hannah's story is more about something that a person ponders in their heart for a long period of time. It is like an incubation process. I hope you will let yourself use Hannah's story to be aware that such a focused yearning can indeed come to you at any phase of life and you will then know better what to do with it. Yes, you can be like Hannah.

Well, just as strong as Hannah's aching and yearning heart was the joy that came to her eventually. After she had experienced being taken for a drunk and perhaps being a little bit crazy did Eli, the man of God, recognize that Hannah was in deep communication with the Sacred. She was seeking expression for the dream in her deepest heart. Only when Eli saw this did he realize that what he should be saying to the struggling woman is, 'Peace be with you' and lend his support to her great longing. From that moment Hannah seems to know beyond all doubt that she will have a Child. She does and great is her joy. Notice also, she has known all along that her yearning is not just something to bless her own personal life and ambition but that this child will be a blessing to others. The long yearned  for event was not really her personal possession.. It was a  gift to many. She begins her song of Jubilation by saying, 'God has granted me the yearning of my heart, this baby boy. So I have lent him to the Lord as for as long as he lives.' Her son became the wise Judge-King of Israel.

We can wisely utilize Hannah's story by paying attention to our own heart. For it is a common human happening that longings regarding life and its needs sometime come into conscious awareness. Needs that we feel not only involve our personal fulfillment but that may also bring  blessings and answers to  problems of our family, our church, even of our nation or world. It is nowhere else but the human heart and its longings that the beginnings of the solutions of great and personal  problems are born. Just as in the Christmas story there are many ways that 'a child is born.'

Prayer: Dear God. We thank you for Hannah's story. Let us know it is also our own story in the unique ways which you promise to be alive in each of us. Help us to listen for that yearning need, then confidently give it our prayerful hopeful attention. Let our hearts be places where important issues of life are incubated to come forth into our world as wonderful blessings. And that we  will be always rejoicing and singing praises to your name. Amen

Monday, November 12, 2012

WHEN IS HEAVEN?....November 12, 2012

The reader may wish to read Edward Fudge's compelling, excellently written orthodox interpretation of these matters at the bottom before reading my essay. You will notice at times he and I are much in agreement. In this essay I am equating the expressions. 'Kingdom is coming', 'Kingdom is at hand', 'Heaven is now or tomorrow', 'Heaven is here and now', 'Heaven or Kingdom is imminent.'

Remember this: heaven ain't here yet. Hi Edward. This light hearted comment nearly passed me by as harmless and not worthy of comment. But while walking I realized it stirs me to think that things extremely important and timeless are being thrown out. A real example of 'throwing out the baby with the bath water.' I disagree with what your expression asks us in the end to give up. This difference has nothing to do with intelligence for I'm confident your IQ would check out higher than mine. Actually strong Western intelligence often adds to the problem of our thinking we have a total picture when we are actually not yet conscious of  some deeper considerations. I think it is nearer the truth to say that 'Heaven is now, or if not-then tomorrow.' I want to approach this from several directions.

I do acknowledge and do not apologize that my thinking about such things has been influenced by the reflections of Carl Jung. I do not consider him a guru, messiah or more complete in personality than many others. I have found him to be one of those authentic seekers whose work I have found very helpful in interpreting my own observations and  experiences of life. Jung has especially been help in that way with respect to the nature of human inner life.

A post I'm reading about the Historical Jesus today states an essential concept in interpreting the gospels, For me it is difficult to separate the historical Jesus from the socio-economic havoc wrought in Galilee by Herod the Great and his son, the Tetrarch Herod Antipas. Having served as governor of Galilee during the waning days of the last Hasmonean regime, Herod discovered the vast agricultural bounty of the region, and ruthlessly exploited this wealth to finance vainglorious building projects in Judea and Samaria after becoming king. Galilean farmers--as Joseph probably was, in addition to his woodworking skills--were slowly crushed under a triple layer of taxes: tithes due to the priesthood; tribute due to Rome; and lastly, taxes to sustain Herod's own lavish administration.” 

The sensitive and highly conscious Jesus stepped into a very unique religious/political environment. The Jews, prompted by severe religious/civil oppression, were expecting the imminent appearance of a Messiah Savior who would change their cruel world into a place of justice and the full reign of God on earth. Or to put it another way they expected any day for 'Heaven on Earth' to be realized. Jesus supported this hopeful attitude and longing by his central preaching concept, 'The Kingdom of God is at hand.' This meant  for people to believe.... 'that heaven or God's full reign can be expected any day now.' He assured them that in their lifetime  'heaven or the kingdom would come.' Matthew 23:34

Middle East Children Of Poverty And Oppression Today.

This same kind of mindset of longing for the full presence of God on earth continued, even more strongly, after Jesus was murdered by Roman decree. This is what, more than any precept or teaching, drove the hope and endurance of the earliest Christian communities. They literally and whole heartedly believed Jesus would return in the flesh even the 'next day' to bring his 'Kingdom on earth' to realization or 'heaven on earth' into full outer reality. Matthew 6:10 Without that strong powerful notion of heart and soul the 'believing' community would never have survived. It can't be over stated that to believe with heart and soul that 'heaven is just a day away' is the central archetypal energy of primitive Christianity. Any belief system that does not seek in some manner to retain that same spiritual/psychological orientation in human thought and ambition can hardly be said to be fully in touch with Christian foundations. This is why  as an heir of such a type of  mindset for nearly three decades I strongly disagree with the lighthearted certainty statement , “Heaven ain't now.” To every trusting Jew of Jesus' day and to every first generation Christian  Heaven was not 'now' but it surely was tomorrow. That is the only way they could hang on to human life and have a deep confidence in its meaning. This was central to earliest Christianity. The saying that 'Heaven ain't here now' would to them seem like a kind of disbelief in Jesus.

It is important to keep in mind that this 'kingdom of God' or similarly to Christians 'heaven' was not 'pie in the sky in the sweet by and by.' The Jews had no such concept and Jesus did not really ever teach such a concept. It was all about 'heaven coming to earth' which is at the heart of the 'Lord's Prayer'. Jesus' prayer for them to 'all be one' is also a prayer for 'earthly life' to become a place of peace , harmony and joy which would be for 'all people', not just the ones praying that prayer. 'On earth as it is in heaven' was to these people a fleshly, on this very earth, full presence and reign of God and humans in full harmony with each other and the creation. It was a return to Eden but  potentially with a far more conscious understanding of love and life than the Genesis story pictures Adam and Eve having. To say rather nonchalantly, “Heaven ain't here yet” or  'Don't have any strong immediate expectations of it', is to throw out what the timeless symbol of  baby Jesus in the manger communicates.

So what happened to that 'lively hope' that was so central to the Jews of Jesus' day and which was elevated by Jesus and his admirers after he was killed? In short this specific hope of 'immediate heaven now' was, in less than a century, practically forgotten. Logically speaking it was, in some very real ways, misguided and misplaced. For a person to have such a driving hope for 'heaven tomorrow' interfered with carrying out the ordinary responsibilities of daily human life. If 'heaven is tomorrow' why bother with taking any precautions, why bother to instruct the young in making a living, why bother with even 'burying the dead?' God's reign and full harmony on earth is 'coming tomorrow.' The teaching would say that all that  is required of a human with such a conviction is to 'get by and trust the promise given today-that heaven is imminent.' 

The first gospel writers teach that 'heaven is tomorrow' and that this is the hope of the world and all who follow Jesus. All references above of Jesus emphasis on 'haven now or tomorrow' are found repeatedly in the gospel teachings, especially the first three 'synoptic' gospels. Paul, who wrote earlier,  speaks the language of an imminent return of Jesus. But he also warned that believers needed to tend to the matters of daily living and working. II Thessalonians 3:6  In the fourth gospel, John, we see a near fully post-Easter Jesus, a Jesus that is far more than human and an image of Jesus that one can use for a 'long haul' kind of faith. This was going to work much better for an institutional hierarchy model of life and church. In John the 'post Easter' Jesus is not nearly as much a symbol of 'the world will change tomorrow and heaven will be on earth' as a symbol that could encourage Jesus admirers to 'live in this world but not be of this world' for however long it takes. John 17. 

And even more the later epistles of the New Testament begin to teach against the idea of a seriously imminent coming of the 'Kingdom of God.' Jesus is being reinterpreted and his 'heaven is tomorrow' is no longer taught as a reasonable way to believe.  The Hebrews epistle is a strong effort to help Christians have support for the long haul they may have to  endure. Revelation is the purest apocalyptic literature in the New Testament but its 'Kingdom come' message is very different than that of the gospels. Revelation is a very dark desperate plea for Jesus' return. It's images include a Christ who 'devours children' in vengeance in contrast to the earlier images of Jesus' tender care for them all. Revelation 2:23.  Revelation ends with the apocalyptic plea,' Even Come Lord Jesus' but it had now become a desperate cry of 'save us.' By this time the author had seen so horribly many human atrocities happen because Jesus' expected immediate returned had been postponed 'far too long.' Revelation describes an intermediate psychological/spiritual state of mind between 'Loving Jesus will come immediately and make all right' and the final settling down of an institutional church to the understanding that, 'He will eventually come taking vengeance on disbelievers but don't count on it soon. Prepare for much suffering to come first.'

The implication of such 'new' teaching is the Kingdom might come to tomorrow but it is not really likely. The updated teaching in effect says, "We were mistaken  about 'Heaven being the same as here' as in the original teaching. We should have known 'with God one day is as a thousand years.' " II Peter 3:8.  In other words earlier believers had taken Jesus too literally. He was speaking metaphorically. So the Christian teachers themselves began to throw out the baby. They no doubt felt they had to of necessity  to keep order. And surely this is where we are generally today in orthodox Christian practice and belief. So it is now our conventional wisdom that whatever you think of heaven, 'Remember it for sure ain't now.' Such a change was necessary and correct for it has been over two thousand years and Jesus has not yet returned as the original teaching suggested.
So how can the archetypal energy of 'God's full presence is immanent daily' still be accessible to post-modern persons? We can rejoice for exclamations of love's supremacy such as I Corinthians 13. Here it is love that we are to yearn for, strive for and expect as the fullest meaning of human or Christian living.  And love is about 'right now or tomorrow.' I am suggesting that a fuller more complete experience of intimate love is the appropriate and effectual way the archetypal energy of 'Heaven is now or tomorrow' can be captured and lived in post-modern daily human life. For it is only 'love that is the greatest thing-nothing else.' This can be just as clear and sensible to us post-moderns as 'Jesus is Lord and not Caesar'  and ' Jesus Kingdom is to replace Caesar's any moment now' were to those original Jesus admirers.

Throughout church history there have been moments of strong upsurges in the notion that the “ kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And  people during such moments have alive again the hope of an imminent drastic positive change in the world and personal situation. But we post-modern people have a strong hunch, and we've seen it repeatedly confirmed, that such people are generally not psychologically well balanced and in time are always humiliated. Most of these upsurges of 'The Kingdom is here' though have not been about a 'heaven on the earth in the here and now' but that heaven is a 'different world', a non-physical world 'out there.' One modern exception to this is the doctrine of pre-millennealism which in my specific heritage is a heretical doctrine. But it has been embraced by Biblical literalists through the years. It says that Jesus will come back to this very earth and 'set up his Kingdom' where justice and harmony will reign over all. It does not say this is actually heaven but something much improved over what we have and a kind  of predecessor to heaven that will be in the 'other world.' 

My religious heritage, the nineteenth  century indigenous 'back to the Bible' Christian movement referred to as 'the restoration movement' was captured initially by a varying sense of the 'imminence' of the kingdom of God. This vacillated between a pre or post millennium belief. There was a conviction that some serious coming of the Kingdom of God was imminent so there became a desire to end the many factions of Christianity , to become simply Christians so the Church or 'bride of Christ' would be prepared for a kind of heavenly marriage, when the full 'kingdom comes.' This movement instead splintered into at least four separate Christian communities: The Independent Christian Church, The Disciples of Christ, The non instrumental churches of Christ and the non-institutional churches of Christ. There is scarcely any serious teaching in these groups today where people  are admonished to live with a strong expectation of 'heaven tomorrow.' I think The Jehovah Witnesses  teach a pre-millenneum view and an imminent coming of an earthly Kingdom of God. So neither mainline Christians or the general secular culture today live with any strong confidence that radical change, personally and collectively, which will be very good for all is fully expected each day.

The previous paragraph reminds me of the idea that the germ or seed of the end of one's spiritual journey is necessarily present in ones origins. So I consider my origins  just as important as where I have ended up in religious perception and belief. Ones origins include all the environment in which one begins their journey,  including  family, culture and  religion. So I honor my Southern family, conservative, Church of Christ origins. It gave me exactly what I needed for the seed of my life  to develop  as it has. No one should resent  their origins. It is likely they were 'chosen' very specifically for each of us. The only regret we might have is that when life nudged us to move on from the comfort of our origins we lacked the interest, will or courage to follow that nudge. My present religious perspective retains something that was an original emphasis of my religious origins which had practically been lost by that religious movement even before I was born. But that archetypal element has been restored in a unique way to me in my life's unfolding.  I am referring to the experience of 'Heaven always being at hand, tomorrow if not today, right now.' 

All modern teachings that would lead a person to live similarly to the gospel teaching 'Heaven is today or tomorrow' are generally referred to as apocalyptic.** My personal theology nor psychological understanding are in line with these apocalyptic teachings as they have come forth throughout the centuries of church history. But all apocalyptic Christian teaching does demonstrate how the living archetype of ' Heaven is tomorrow' is a living thing and it breaks through to some level of Christian experience time and again. People under the influence of such an archetype do admittedly 'have something' special, certainly a strong and hope filled emotional anticipation, which was a part of Hebrew and initial Christian foundations. Living Archetypes are powerful and can take over processes of the human psyche  in very unconscious and misleading ways. They are dangerous but full of real religious inspiration. Jung would say that without archetypal energy life becomes bland and meaninglessness threatens. Archetypal energy is essential  for being most fully human. But archetypal energy, when too unconscious, can also mislead and shipwreck personal life and collective culture. Any strong, potentially life altering, emotional experience of a person or a group should in our day be a red flag that we need to become more conscious of their source and meaning. Otherwise the unconscious archetypal forces will control human living in ways that can become destructive and lead to all kinds of disappointing dead ends.

Such eruptions of archetypal energy need to be 'worked with' and even challenged by the human conscious ego which at first experiences them as very strange and 'other'. This is precisely the therapeutic process that Carl Jung creatively used with his individual patients. The goal of his therapy was what he called 'individuation' which basically means supporting a person in their process of making conscious the archetypes that are most at work in his/her life. This kind of insight is also possible at the collective level. Our religious and political systems are also empowered by the living archetypes which can be made more conscious by intentionally interacting with them in therapeutic type ways. The fact that these apocalyptic 'Heaven is now' kinds of inner attitude and experience commonly erupt within Western communities, often with religious or Christian emphasis, is an indication that such archetypes strongly deserve our conscious attention. They do in fact  rightfully have an important place and role in a healthy human and Christian consciousness for our present day. I have attempted to show how  such a 'Heaven is tomorrow' attitude or archetype can be most needed and appropriate in our day. *** If I am correct such a direction would be how post modern people can be in touch, in a conscious and healthy way, with the very same archetypal structures and energy that were active in Jesus and his closest  admirers in his belief that “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”

The Greek Myth Of Psyche and Eros
I now  venture to comment on another archetypal aspect of the “Heaven is today.. or tomorrow” spiritual/psychological state of mind. I have written much about Eros being perhaps the single most direct and common connection between Humans and the Sacred. And I have also explained that Eros has, not without reason, been very villainized in Western culture; often associated with sexual promiscuity and life destroying sexual encounters and scenarios. ** But Eros is also a very needed and positive energy. “Eros is a human/Sacred archetypal power”, said theologian Paul Tillich which more than any other results in a person experiencing being fully alive and in love with self, others and the world. It is an experience that a great number of humans never forget the 'glory' and ' Oh my Godness' of. It lives as a strong fantasy, dream and yearning and can also break through as actual sexual encounter by youth and adults. However, because it has not been usually sustained such as in one night stands, temporarily exciting adulterous affairs  nor often  in legal marriage, it is passed off as an immature fantasy and something to be outgrown. So Eros experience is often rather purposely repressed and life is lived without an ongoing surge of Eros energy. 

Along with Paul's Ode to Love in First Corinthians chapter 13 and many other exhalations of love, the Bible raises up the importance of Eros love in its very center. Here  the Song of Solomon, or more appropriately Song of Songs, overtly intends to display the glory of Eros. Here are the amazing stories of the ecstatic Eros rendezvous of committed but unmarried lovers. I confidently say unmarried for there is no suggestion of marriage in the text. The woman explains she is under the close watch of family. And also,then as now, even with its culturally approved polygamy, no reasonable person  dared to  imagine such a sustained intimate Eros in the context of marriage. I stronngly suspect generally sustained Eros intimate relationships were not psychologically/spiritually possible in the ancient  patriarchal  and sexist cultures. But such daily sustained Eros love, in or out of legal marriage, is precisely what I am arguing can be the growing expectation of post-modern persons. If not presently for themselves personally then  for many others for whom life opens that door. (A large part of my life, as with many others, has been without an Eros charged relationship. But this need not discourage any of  us from supporting and expecting such love to be happening with others in our culture.) All moments of Eros love between committed responsible partners, I believe, make the world a far more loving and safe place for everyone. Only in our era  where mutual male-female relationships are culturally  valued can we  finally be at the cusp of sustained Eros love relationships as typical, not just an extreme occasional exception.

I am suggesting that Eros belongs as a central and fully legitimate aspect of inner and outer life. It is no accident that in Greek mythology Eros is a god who lives out an ecstatic yet also tragic relationship with a lover named Psyche(which means soul.) Eros and Psyche is a central story of love for Western civilization. It surely must be timeless and of highest imaginable need and purpose for human life in its ultimate potential. It lives, even if barely conscious, in our collective psyche as much today as ever.  I believe that it is not the honoring and genuine expectation and longing for Eros but the nearly universal repression and denigration of Eros that has led to such strong pornographic and sex trafficking markets.   And it is the repression and otherwise unconsciousness of the source of Eros that generate the tragic disappointment in not 'finding' it in life sustaining ways including many sincere marriage efforts. Eros, or the lack of it, is even expressed in our culture often as the butt of jokes. I would suggest we often laugh at our greatest disappointments in life when our true emotion about it, if known, is tears of sadness and loss.

So I am suggesting that the original yearning for a Messiah or heaven or especially Jesus' return in the flesh was strongly enriched by an Eros type of energy. These people had enjoyed the physical presence of Jesus. They had touched him. They had felt his strong warm physical embrace. The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas says that some had been 'kissed' by Jesus. Two women are described washing or anointing his feet with overtly erotic touch. The women came to the 'garden'(a biblical symbol of erotic love such as in  the Song of Solomon and Garden of Eden) tomb to anoint his body. So their yearning for him after his death was genuinely Erotic in nature. That does not mean they were explicitly sexually attracted but the ones most in love with him did long to touch and embrace him. The gospel of John has John laying his head on Jesus' breast and calling himself the 'most loved' by Jesus. These are clearly images of Eros love.  There is a foundation of Eros in all strong loving human relationships. Even where we can't be in such physical embrace, or where it is forbidden, it remains a part of any desired human intimate love. The presence of Eros is why the yearning for Jesus to return in the flesh was so unrelenting and why  an otherwise hopeless Christian people were able to endure extreme physical and spiritual hardships. Love was no intellectually sterile concept under the control of human will for them. Christian orthodoxy  long ago chose Agape love as the superior aspect of love which, without Eros and Phileo, turns into a cold formal technical term. But those early 'Heaven is tomorrow' believers were gripped by an Eros quality of love. Eros does not demand to be superior but does insist on being a mutual part of embodied human/sacred love. If it is rejected it will withdraw but it is nearly certain to come back in some dark and unpleasant way(s) in either personal or collective life.

I believe such Eros energy can accomplish the same today in individual and collective  human life which are in connection and harmony with healthy and balanced Eros psychological/spiritual energy.*** I carry the hope that our national culture, and likely the world, is near the point of a quantum jump in human capacity to experience sustained responsible Eros in intimate daily love relationships. This would truly change the world for such daily living with Eros would enable persons to realize far more fully that s/he is able to give and receive love in a most intimate and potent way. Such a person would always be able to say, 'I know I have been loved and have successfully given love' in such a complete way. I must emphasize that such a 'theory of Eros' does not leave anyone out. Even if a human is not intimately involved with a partner at any given time, even large parts or a whole  lifetime, s/he can still 'know and experience' they are living, like my personal life now, by Eros in connections with others. We can all glory in the fact that others are in such intimate  love relationships and supporting such love in every way we can.

Let me turn to a present American example of the fact of the power of Eros. We have just been informed that one of our national most respected, intelligent  community servants has had his life unravel before us. General David Petraeus, top leader of our recent wars, devoted husband and father has astonishingly resigned from his high post as director of the Central Intelligence Agency of the U.S.A. He acknowledged he was involved irresponsibly in an extra marital affair. Whatever is or is not true about this at the intimate human level , we can know that someone(s)' life has likely been powerfully changed both inwardly and outwardly. If what I am saying rings true we can suspect that he and perhaps his cohort experienced the  Sacred/human power of Eros. Keep in mind that 'Eros is love' in the Greek language. But it is 'not all' of well developed and balanced love. The other pieces are described in the Greek meanings of Agape(devoted faithfulness) and Phileo(pleasantness of being in the presence of another, friendship.) 

Christian teaching has generally implied that Eros be viewed as a 'bad or unseemly', even if necessary for reproduction, aspect of love rather than honored as the element of human/Sacred love that may most connect humans to the Sacred. It tends to reduce sexuality to biology and has failed to recognize its spiritual  dimensions. When reports of  the power of Eros in human life reach us we are stunned either with horror or with great joy depending on the outcome. (Some ordinary conservative Americans live out Eros vicariously through TV soap operas and paperback novels. Many religious persons find themselves embarrassingly  'pulling for real love' in these complicated relationships even when adultery is involved. Something they would never condone in real life.) 

The provocative description of  the Eros love of King David for Bathsheba is a Biblical story that needs  more investigation as to the strange  and dark beginnings of what may have become strong and balanced Eros. II Samuel 11, 12. There is good reason to read between the lines of such a provocative story, maybe more so, when it is in our Sacred text. This David is spoken of as 'a man after God's own heart?'  Does this refer to  his very rich and complicated  capacity for Eros love?  Recall that the overall primary description of God is that 'God is love.'  What does that mean with respect to the full range of love being Agape( Unconditional valuing), Phileo(desiring friendship and presence of) and Eros(longing for physical connection)? Bathsheba seems to have become far more than just 'another of the King's wives'. The couple grieved together the loss of their first child together(Are we to see this truly as a love child?) and became parents to the future King Solomon. There is much in the complicated story to indicate that  Bathsheba's legal husband, though a proud warrior, had a very low love value for  his wife compared to what David's love for her is shown to be. 

Of importance, David's sin is totally described as a property violation of another man,'taking another man's wife', which is how adultery is consistently defined in the Old Testament. At that time in human consciousness love is simply not the central issue and question  of personal life as it becomes in  the New Testament where  love is the 'greatest of all things.' This story clearly describes a time and situation where the male-female love relationship was thought of  in legal terms of law and patriarchal rights and economics. Love at most was a passing thought. Certainly consideration of financial  and legal realities must always be a part of the life of any balanced responsible love relationship. These should  be factors that support the relationship, not the definition or substance of it. I'm confident our present American culture will never return to such a love-less and Eros-rejecting standard like is implied in this cultural story. The time has arrived that a growing number of men and women are desiring and expecting love to be the measure of intimate relationships, nothing else compares.  The quality of David's love and care for Bathsheba is never questioned in the entire story.  Or is it asked who Bathsheba truly loves and desires to be with. Obviously all can agree that King David's treacherous use of power and murder  are morally indefensible. But all these  love questions need to be explored as post-modern people come to know more about the dangerous but forever life giving qualities and determination of living Eros.

Such thoughtful exploration makes it impossible for us to know whether mature and responsible love supported by Agape and Phileo are present in our contemporary 'sex scandals.' Such lapses of personal control can be little more than a person/s taking a very dangerous avenue to relieve pent up sexual tension, an irresponsible escape from an unfulfilled love life, using one's erotic capacities as a display of  personal power or acting out a sense of personal entitlement. Thus come the perennially occurring human  tragedies of Eros love. Where  Eros love is balanced by agape and phileo there is always humility and gratitude which the attitudes I've  just mentioned always lack.

There is always though the chance that such a 'scandal' was actually about a truly caring, responsible, committed  experience of Eros which seems to have been at the wrong place and time in ones life. If balanced responsible Eros is present I would strongly assume that any party involved fully 'knows' it and at a very real level could never regret it. Simply because s/he 'knows' they have fully loved and been loved. None may ever know but the ones who had the experience. It must be emphasized that one can never claim they are not personally responsible if they have entered such dangerous love and they will not resist paying for whatever the consequences are, and horrible those surely can be for  themselves and for others who may have been  deeply hurt.

I have explained in other blog posts how it is that I can write with such confidence of such things.**** After all I am a only a once long-time married and once divorced man. And I remain unmarried. It is not out of personal outer experience that I know whereof I speak. I confess it all comes from the 'vision-like' religious experiences I had beginning in mid August 1985 and continuing at some level for many years. It may also be rooted in my life long desire to 'know what love is.'  The Biblical materials have been an ongoing ever renewing  resource for me in this long journey.( My Cruden's Concordance is well worn.) Such sincere desire  and investigation of  the foundations of love does not likely lead one into promiscuity and may involve the experience of  love's heartbreaking  potential. One way I describe the effect of all this on me is there has been inwardly planted in my personal psyche, my soul, all of these kinds of experiences just as if I had had lived them in outer reality. This seems to be the central purpose of the 'revelatory-like' experiences I had. A part of me knows what it is like for a human to live out a full life in such intimate love partnership. No doubt I also have embedded in me the experiences of lost and unbalanced love that causes so much human tragedy, even for otherwise some of the best examples of responsible human living in our midst. I suspect we all have within us these collective love experiences of our human history but some, at times,  are more conscious of them? I can only say that from a kind of direct inner experience of the Collective Unconscious and of my effort to assimilate and integrate it over nearly three decades can I write with a strong confidence about these things. 

Here is a place where Jung's analysis seems to describe the kind of inner experience of love I have had:
From 'C.G.JUNG-PSYC. REFLECTIONS' By Jacobi & Hull
Love is forever the greatest single potential and spiritual mystery of human life. That should tell us how important it is to take our questions and experiences with it seriously. I do not know the extent that it can ever be 'on earth as it is in heaven' but I know if we do not think it is a highest human calling to  believe and desire it as our  personal and collective destiny that it certainly will never happen. I understand that much of what I say  is not convincing to most of my peers. But I feel obligated to share these insights, as they are alive in me, with the hope they can be joined in time with others' confessions to help our culture more fully learn about the power of love, and how it calls us to a harmonious connection with an archetypal energy which says to post modern people, “ Heaven is very near right now and always.” Jim H.

On Sun, 11 Nov 2012 03:59:00 -0500 "Edward Fudge" <> writes:
Edward Fudge
Surprises about Heaven - 5
From the first stirrings of our kind nearly 2,000 years ago until the present day, some primal but misguided urge has tried to jump the gun on glory. The rambunctious Corinthians, misguided and equally impetuous, found the notion of a suffering Savior exceedingly distasteful. But Paul wouldn't budge. It's Christ crucifiied, he insisted, or it is not the true Christ at all (1 Cor. 2:1-5). That was Paul's story and he was sticking with it.
The Corinthians much preferred a prosperity gospel (wouldn't we all, if it were only true!). What? Kings already? Paul mocked their imaginative theology. I wish you did wear crowns now, he said, Then I could put on my crown also, stop being treated like scum, and guarantee that I would never face death in the Roman Arena (1 Cor. 4:8-13). No, little children, heaven ain't here and now.
The Thessalonians also were confused regarding the timetable, some even attributing to Paul himself a rumor that Jesus had already appeared the final time and taken his redeemed (2 Thess. 2:1ff). Not to worry, Paul exhorted. You haven't missed a thing! It seems that some at Thessaalonica reckoned that common work was no longer  appropriate, seeing how they had reached their reward while the sun was still shining in the sky. Regarding such dreamers, Paul offers a very practical remedy: if someone refuses to work, cancel his meal ticket until his hunger pains convince him that immortality yet remains a future blessing. Again Paul makes the point; heaven ain't here and now.
Jesus, his apostles, and the witness of New Testament writings all assure us of a future they claim is too good to fully describe and so they use pictures instead. It's like a grand country park, a free-range nature preserve populated by erstwhile carnivores-turned-vegetarians, where slithering snakes play with human babies and no one is in danger of  any harm. On the other hand, our final reward also resembles a city such as has never existed until now, urban society wthout crime or decay, a perfect polis with no need for first responders because emergencies no longer occur.
We do well to remember the divine timetable and so avoid supposing we are already there. That sometimes results from wishful thinking, or from over-reaction to excessive futuristic schemes that leave no room for wonder or surprise. The end will finally come--the goal will arrive--the Savior will appear and claim us as his own. His kingdom has already begun. A new, eternal dynamic is in force. Between the now and the then, the already and the not yet, we experience the realities of both worlds.
We have surgeries, and Parkinson's and cancers. Sometimes we get healed; sometimes we die. We stumble and sin, but increasingly we enjoy victory. And through it all we persevere. We have grasped something transcendent and we have been grasped. So, whatever happens, come what may, we will not turn loose--more important, God will not turn loose. Our reward is sure, but remember this: heaven ain't here yet.