2016 February 26. True City, Heaven and Earth, and Apprentices for Jesus. Tonight I returned from the opening evening of the True City Hamilton annual conference pumped about True City and the opening talk.
True City Hamilton is a movement of congregations that work together for the good of the city. These churches work together on specific projects such as www.RideforRefuge.com to raise money to help refugees, homeless people, and victims of trafficking. The program Backpacks provides back-to-school kits for students in need. Christmas Hampers does what it says (as we all should). Churches also meet regularly to learn from each other and share ideas. The annual conference recharges our batteries and lets us enjoy each other’s company.
Kevin Makins, six years into a growing church plant, gave a wonderful talk on what it means to be disciples of Jesus. Actually, he said, people nowadays have no idea what “disciples” means: they think anyone with “disciples” is leading a cult – BAD!! Instead, let’s call them “apprentices.” Sounds good: we’re learning how to work like Jesus. He’s the Master, we’re the apprentices, and he’s teaching us how to show people the way to heaven, or better stated, the way to the kingdom of God.
Now heaven, said Kevin Makins, is not some other place outside of earth and unconnected to earth. The ancient Jews, and Jesus, knew that heaven and earth overlapped. Earth is a physical place while heaven is a spiritual place that overlaps earth. Think of two circles that overlap each other. When Jacob saw a vision of a staircase with angels going up from earth and back down from heaven, that staircase showed the overlap of heaven and earth. The tabernacle and the temple showed the overlap as well—the place where God and humans met. When Jesus came to earth, he was the overlap, being God and human both at the same time.
We Christians recognize this overlap when we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In fact, if we truly believe, we are also part of the overlap between heaven and earth. When Jesus returns at the end of time, heaven will come down to earth and the two will overlap completely. Those who die before the end of time are taken up completely into heaven temporarily, but at the end, their physical bodies will be raised as renewed bodies and will be part of the united heaven and earth.
Now when we’re saved, we are not just saved FROM sin and alienation from God, but we are saved FOR God and FOR Jesus and FOR bringing others into the presence of Jesus by showing them God’s love and grace just as Jesus did. The Master has called us to be his Apprentices. We gather on Sundays not just to get fed and to enjoy and consume the experience, but to be fed so we can work in the week to come. It doesn’t matter whether we “enjoy” church on Sunday, but whether we worship so we can go out and BE the church all week.