Series: Other Speakers
Sun Am 15 July 2012 – Justus Swart
Gen. 1:1-2; Gen. 11:4; Matt. 6:9-10; Matt. 16:13-19; (Matt. 13:11); Isa. 9:6-7; Matt. 10:34-36
Some have the understanding that the connection between the physical and the spiritual is only at death. The Scriptural language that heaven is ‘above’ could have only come after the fall. The heavens and the earth were created in one spoken word. Adam was strolling through the garden with God, spiritual and physical were the dwelt together. After the fall we understand there was a spiritual death and it caused a break in the relationship. Then they started talking about a God, who was up in the heavens; who lived in a separate realm because earth had been tarnished. That language conveys a spiritual principle and not a reality because we know that God dwells within us. Although heaven and earth were separate realms, you find in the Garden of Eden the two realms interacting with each other consistently; the relationship between the two realms happened naturally, without effort. When the Bible talks about a place up there, we understand that it is symbolic language; then we come to understand that heaven can be a present reality. Paul in the New Testament talks about his citizenship being in heaven, but he was alive on earth. Paul wanted us to understand that we can engage with heaven while here on earth.
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven’” (Matt. 6:9-10). Is it possible that heaven and earth are much closer than we think? What is missing is the order of the Kingdom. Heaven co-exists with earth, and heaven can occupy the same space as earth, but is not limited to that space. Heaven has a purpose for earth; heaven is not just the retirement lounge when you are done with life. There is a connection between heaven, the Kingdom and earth. What we see and perceive are reflections of something deeper. When we become Christians and are introduced to the Son, we start to perceive and see the world in a different way. Our limitations hinder our perceptions. What we see may be real, but are you seeing it for what it truly is? If two realms co-exist, how does one engage and interact with them at the same time? Jesus said to Peter, “You have the revelation” and then goes on to say, “What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven” (Matt. 16:13-19). Once the revelation came, Jesus said, “You are now interacting with both realms. What you do on earth affects heaven, what you do in heaven affects earth.” These two realms are linked far more than we think. It is easier for us to separate the two because Western mind-sets compartmentalize different aspects of life. There must be a connection between the two realms and a perfect tension that holds the two together.
When we talk about the Kingdom of God there is a futuristic aspect as well as a past and present aspect – the tension between the ‘already’ and the ‘not yet’. Essentially it is a timeless Kingdom. When it talks about a Kingdom that has yet to come and a Kingdom that has been, it is not referring to periods of time; the future and the past exist within the present; an eternal now. We have a responsibility to bring heaven to earth. The Kingdom of God has to exist within the earthly realms and the heavenly realms. We must understand what the Kingdom of God is made up of, otherwise how else will we know when it has arrived? What are its features? What are the aspects of the Kingdom of God? There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace (Isa. 9:7). Two things are outlined there, government and peace; some of the most fundamental aspects of the Kingdom of God, the order of God with the peace of God. He is called the Prince of Peace and the government will be on His shoulders, so government and peace are intertwined. God’s government is true government; it is order and grace all in one.
Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household (Matt. 10:34-36). What is peace through your eyes? If we truly desire peace on earth, it is going to radically reform our current lifestyles, everything would have to change. He was saying, “If you truly want heaven to come to earth, if you truly desire to see the Kingdom of God, how radical are you willing to be? You must turn away from everything else; there is only one focus in your life when you desire that.”
To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted (Matt. 13:11). Why did He say this? There will be a company who will push until they break through to the revelation; they will always want more; they will never be satisfied. Jesus was saying, “I have not come to give you a comfortable life, I have not come to give you money, a nice car, or to ensure that your job is good. I have come into your life to change every aspect of your life, to make it conform to heaven’s purposes for your life.”
In the struggle for justice, certain forms of peace will be challenged. The closer we come to Jesus the more our lives will be challenged to change. The closer we push into Jesus, the more we will feel uncomfortable in our current situation. The further we push, the more we read our Bible, the more we get connected to the community, the more dysfunctional our relationships will become with the system of the world. Consumerism, materialism, we will become uncomfortable with these because we have transformed our lives according to heaven’s standards.
When we talk about peace do we mean superficial harmony or an everlasting peace that resides in the deepest corners of our heart? It is a peace consistent with the purpose of God in your life. Jesus was not an anarchist. He did not come to promote war and violence. At the core of His statement lies the challenge to remove anything that stops your life from being conformed to heaven’s standards. When you have a relationship with God one can expect things around you to become dysfunctional for a while. We are aliens in a system, in a world that does not know our God. Peace is not always calm and quite. Peace is a relationship with the truth. You lose your peace when you step back from your relationship with God and you walk in your own direction. There is nothing more painful than living a life without the peace of God. The peace of God gives your life meaning, it empowers your relationships. Peace is more powerful than anything you can go through in your life.
When the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters; that was the peace of God (Gen. 1:1-2). The earth was dark, empty, formless and void. Everything was waiting to be created. Then the voice of God comes and He starts bringing things forth. Start with me, with this earth. Connect with the peace of God and with heaven. Start seeing the relationship between the two, do not keep them separate. Anyone who feels he has lost his peace will find it here, in community, in the Word and in worship. Fight for your peace. Don’t settle for anything less than the peace of God.