“Open the Universe!”

CC BY-ND, rmatthendrick, Flickr
CC BY-ND, rmatthendrick, Flickr

Okay, let’s think outside the box. 

Evil has recently been vanquished and the redeemed now live on New Earth where all is perfect and Jesus is King. Many customs and things still resemble the previous world, although spectacularly enhanced now. Pastime and sports, for example, still exist and so does most other recreation, including a truly virtual telecasting experience.

The biggest draw across the global kingdom now is an ongoing contest called “Open the Universe!” initiating Jesus’s long-awaited expansion of the human race to other planets throughout the cosmos. But who will govern the first new world?

Thus, Jesus has handpicked two teams of the faithful to compete and showcase their glorious skills and abilities. The task: build a city. Each team travels to a designated location on New Earth, constructs, and manages a city of their own, engaging the help and talents of the chosen denizens who will inhabit that domain.

In the end, Jesus will award his first regency to the team that has best organized, designed, erected, and governed its city. There are no losers; the second team will gain regency of the next expansion.

The people of New Earth are riveted by the giftedness of the participants, for each person presents facets of the Sovereign One, as they are called, only that individual can express. In fact, the hosts in Heaven watch with excitement, too.

Here are the first teams:

TEAM LION

Captain: David
Team:  Moses, John, Ezekiel, Apollo, Paul, Deborah, Solomon, Titus, Stephen, Silas, Noah, Elijah, Hezekiah, Ezra

TEAM LAMB

Captain: Joseph
Team: Abraham, Peter, Nehemiah, Josiah, Daniel, Esther, Joshua, Barnabas, Elisha, Luke, Samson, Timothy, Philip the Evangelist, John the Baptist

Cities on New Earth are designed around themes that are strongly incorporated in the built environment. The theme Jesus desires for these new cities is “Human Wonder in Eternal Triumph.” Use of the theme also factors in team selection.

Based on what you know of these people’s lives, particularly their strengths and abilities—projected in a perfect reality—which team do you think would be awarded the first regency? Why?

  • How do you interpret the city theme? 
  • How might each team incorporate the theme into its design?

Please comment and be imaginative!

How Bad Can Heaven Be?

CC BY-NC, ChristyHunterPhotography, Flickr

Jesus told us, “If I’m leaving to make room for you, then I will surely come back for you” (John 14:3). Who doesn’t want to be with Jesus? My problem is the blockheads around me who tell him, “Don’t bother.”

Okay, this is one of my spiritual peeves—Christians who understand nothing about the words “blessed hope.” It happens during conversations and in church when people, grateful to be alive, remark, “We could’ve been dead, sleeping in our graves” or something like it. Truthfully, we’ve all probably had several close calls, some we knew about and some we didn’t. So, for everybody, Thank you, Lord, for sustaining our lives!

He Shall Never Die

What bugs me, however, is the notion that death is so bad, which urges me to question if life is really that good. When people pipe up with ‘happy to be alive’ comments (and I love life), I sense that somehow this world is all the reality there might be in their minds. I don’t wish to be unfair, but I never encounter those who, like me, cannot wait to be with Jesus in the joys of the life to come.

Before you think me unnecessarily critical, the apostle Paul had to deal with the same kind of people. The Thessalonians must have recently lost some beloved person because it prompted Paul to correct their undue mourning.  “We want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13, NLT). He referred to those without Christ who have either no hope or false hopes about their eternal security.

Our bodies will expire; I think we get concerned about sickness, suffering, and pain. I don’t enjoy thoughts about what I might have to endure before I pass on. But though we believers experience physical death, like all humanity, we never die. Our lives before Christ and present clash with sin is the only spiritual death we will ever know. Jesus’s own death usurped sin’s authority, so death, the fullest extent of sin, becomes a grace that makes an end of our dealing with sin—forever.

The Joy of What Awaits

Our future is alive. We immediately go to God, who welcomes us into Heaven—and what that must be like! I’ve heard theology about it, and I’ve heard people who say they’ve visited. It’s all exciting. Is Heaven anything like Earth with vast regions and social systems? And the physics must be mind-boggling! Just think of Christ after his resurrection. Then, there is the New Earth to come.

We will breathe our last here, but we will not die. And Christ’s return will ‘seal the deal’, and these very bodies of ours will be refashioned and made perfect. (The sinner doesn’t get that.) So I don’t dread death or live life ducking. Now I enjoy my humanity and the world around me until it’s time to leave. In fact, that’s my prayer to God: Grant me to live out all of my appointed days. I ask not to die prematurely.

The blind monk in the wonderful documentary Into Great Silence says, “The closer one brings oneself to God the happier one is…the faster one hurries to meet him. One should have no fear of death…it is a great joy to find a Father once again.”

I cannot wait to see God, and I often tell him this. You’re also wrong if you think I have a death wish. So until the angels finish my mansion there…on a splendid mountain overlooking God’s throne…I’ll keep at his will here and send my treasure ahead.