"...the question of what happens to me after death is not the major, central, framing question that centuries of theological tradition have supposed.... The question ought to be, How will God's new creation come? and then, How will we humans contribute to that renewal of creation and to the fresh projects that the creator God will launch in his new world?" ~ N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope
Our individualistic culture has diminished the hope of Christ. It is too easy for us to say, that doesn't affect me personally. The hope of Christ is much bigger than individual concern. If life in Christ is only about what affects me personally, why would any who follow Christ accept suffering?
To experience the hope of Christ we must quit looking at Christianity as a ticket to a plush retirement spot. The hope of Christ is about here and now.
God did not create us as something to look at like a lifeless piece of art. He created human beings in his image. Think on that for a moment. An artist creating a piece of art that can relate to - interact with - the artist. A piece of art that - with the blessing and through the life source of the artist - can contribute to restoring his masterpiece to perfection.
Human beings are not the only part of his masterpiece. All of creation is the masterpiece.
I saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre several years ago. Not being an artist, my purpose was simply to say I've seen the original painting. Some time after my "been there, done that" moment at the Louvre, I learned that one of the significant elements of that painting is that it was "one of the first portraits to depict the sitter before an imaginary landscape." (www.india-crafts.com)
I missed it! I was right there, standing in front of a well protected masterpiece and I missed what the artist wanted me to see.
God is inviting us to see the beginning of something very new and different. Jesus was just the first to be fully transformed from a body that we are familiar with to a body that is like nothing we've yet experienced... but we will someday.
Don't miss this. If you are just looking to make it to a place you've heard of as heaven, you're missing the significance of why it is seems so greatly protected. God's kingdom is here now for those who know what to look for.
It's real and it's as physical as Jesus eating fish on the shore of the Sea of Galilee after his resurrection. His form may not be familiar to you but his kingdom is here. He is with us. And we have exciting work to do here and now.
Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have. Luke 24:39