If heaven is now, why then is there so much trouble?
Trouble, you say; what trouble? Well, for one, I recently learned that there is some kind of epidemic, mainly in Uganda, where kids are slipping into a kind of seizure and nod off as if in a trance. Millions of kids are somehow being infected with this nodding disease causing parents there to be living in horror. Surely heaven is better than that.
Most people treat heaven as the future. We live here in a flawed world, we die, and we suddenly wake up in heaven. Today we know the world can be difficult; no one has to look very far to find evidence of evil and travail. Surely a mind-picture of a pleasant place with no tears and no hardships to follow this difficult life is one way to cope. Some religions – most religions – use such a future-based vision as incentive: just do well and you’ll get in. (Jesus did not offer heaven as such a carrot, but people in many Christian denominations seem to act as if he did.)
Another common misconception seems to be that society is evolving to a constantly improved status. We are working to get it right, they think. That is, in just a hundred years or two, more people will be educated, catch the Golden Rule vision, be nicer to each other, enjoy benefits from ever-increasing technology and share all around. It probably seemed that way to people after World War I too, but when the best-educated nation on Earth unleashed a violent torrent of destruction on its European neighbors, that concept proved to be flawed. It too needs to be rethought.
But if history is to be anything but meaningless, if we are to expect a more purposeful result than just a smoking pile of ashes at the end of time, there must be some sort of heaven to aim for. But that heaven is now.
Imagine a top-notch medical rescue team being “inserted” into Uganda. People equipped with knowledge and tools – “weapons” to combat the frightening nodding disease. As this medical team hunkers down, it establishes some safe zones and begins to learn what kind of bacteria is causing the disease, where this bacteria lives and what feeds it. Millions of people are still being affected, but more and more are not! How exciting; a breakthrough or two. What’s more, the few rescued folks who are no longer being adversely affected are finding ways to communicate to others what they in turn can do to create and maintain their own safe zones.
Now imagine critics coming into this situation after a time. These folks observe and want to see the nodding disease wiped out, but it is still rampant across most of Uganda. Yes, but is the medical team there now? Is the medical team learning how to, and teaching others how to, restore the life there to a healthy standard? Well . . . ya.
Okay. There you have a symbol of how heaven is now. Heaven later is going to be complete; whole. The eternal heaven will completely eradicate the real suffering and evil, but the heaven now is a step in that direction. Is it perfect? No. Can we make it perfect over time? No, we can’t, but the one who created life itself can and will.
When a chess player moves during an early turn, the game is not won. But the plan could be in place to insure victory. The opponent could still have a few turns remaining without realizing he is not going to win. It’s over before it’s over. It’s now and it’s in the future. It looks different then, as does heaven, but it’s also now.