Heaven on Earth

By Tim Harlow

God has promised us overflowing abundance, immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. And that’s now—we don’t have to wait for Heaven.

11_Harlow_main_JNMy life’s mantra is “Heaven to Earth, Earth to Heaven.” I have it tattooed on my arm. I would have a longer mantra, but my arm is rather limited.

That our mission is to bring Earth to Heaven is a given. That’s why we’re here. The gospel. Anyone who knows me realizes if I get to talk about one thing, it’s going to be the Great Commission.

However, Heaven to Earth is a big part of why God left us here, as well. I mean, when Jesus said we should pray, “Your kingdom come . . . on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), it wasn’t just a phrase; it’s a legitimate, answerable prayer. And by the way, you and I are the answer to that prayer.

We’re supposed to bring Heaven to Earth. It’s taking care of the least of these from Matthew 25. It’s the Great Commandment. So it goes like this: we will not get anyone from Earth to Heaven unless we love them, but it does us no good to be good neighbors to people and leave them in an eternity without Christ.

Rick Warren sums up my mantra by saying, our job as Christians is a great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

Both are needed. Both are “great.”

Not Just Later

I’ve spent my life preaching the gospel and trying to take as many people with me to Heaven as I can. But as I get older, I am starting to realize how much Heaven is really available on Earth. I’m starting to realize that when someone finds Jesus, Heaven is not just about later.

Many of us take it for granted because we haven’t ever lived through that much hell.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had problems, and you probably have had your share of bad stuff going on in your life. But I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you have Jesus.

What we don’t realize is how much help we’ve had because of the almighty hand of God being with us through the bad stuff.

I was recently talking with a person who didn’t grow up with Jesus but found him later in life. His family still does not believe. He gave me a stark contrast between where he is now vs. where he would be without Jesus. It really gave me a deep sense that the gospel is so much more than Heaven some day; it’s about Heaven NOW. It’s that way for my friend. It’s a completely different value system. It’s a completely different peace. It’s a completely different power.

If you found Christ later in life, you know what I mean.

I grew up with Jesus. I’ve lived in a piece of Heaven all my life. So I don’t know what it’s like not to have it. I take it for granted. I’m sincerely grateful to my heavenly Father for my blessings, but I have never lived without them. I’m glad I haven’t. It’s just that I’m realizing how blessed I am, and how blessed my kids are, and my grandchildren will be, because they will have Heaven on Earth, as well as in Heaven.

The Best Way to Live

At a conference recently several of us were talking about stewardship. Bill Hybels took a whiteboard and said most pastors teach generosity\tithing like this:

Currently in your life you are at point A. Your goal is point B. Whether that is retirement, owning a business, or whatever—you want to get to B. You are convinced the only way you can get to B—the life you want—is if you use 100 percent of your resources.

A——–100% ME——–B

But God asks us to give back to him, and he promises: “Honor the Lord with . . . the firstfruits . . . then your barns will be filled to overflowing” (Proverbs 3:9, 10).

A——–90% ME + GOD——–B

Bill said most of us get up and say, “God promised to help us get to the life of B, so why don’t we really believe that? Do we really think 100 percent of me is better than 90 percent of me plus God?”

It’s a pretty simple point, if you actually believe in God. I’ve preached it that way for 30 years.

Then Bill said, “That’s all good, but what if there was a C?”

A——–ME + GOD——–B——–C

In other words, what if we really started teaching, preaching, and believing that trusting God is actually the best way to live? Just like we say we do.

God said the barns would be overflowing. In Malachi, he said, “There will not be room enough to store it” (Malachi 3:10).

Overflow is not B. Overflow is C.

When I preached it at my church, I told them it was such a moment for me because I realized that my life is the life of C.

It’s some of Heaven . . . on Earth.

Something to the effect of, “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

I am eager for the perfect version of the kingdom of Heaven. I am eager to be free of tears, death, and pain. Eager to be reunited with loved ones. But every once in a while I need a reminder that even on this fallen planet, there is some Heaven on Earth. So when I’m helping people find Jesus, I should not just be concerned about their eternal soul. There really is a blessed life available to us right now.

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Tim Harlow serves as senior pastor at Parkview Christian Church, Orland Park, Illinois.

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