This post is a guest post by Josh Ross and Jonathan Storment. Check out their new book on Amazon (they co-authored it). Here’s the link: http://goo.gl/mqbuKJ
Our two sons attend Snowden Elementary, a public school about one mile from our home in Memphis, Tenn. So, every school day, like other families who don’t live within walking distance, we park our car two blocks from the school and proceed to cross a six-lane road. It’s a busy intersection that requires two crossing guards and a police officer to ensure children’s safety and regulate awful driving.
I have grown to love crossing guards. Rain, shine, humidity and freezing temperatures, crossing guards are there. They always show up. And crossing guards don’t sit in a lawn chair, waiting until the area is safe, wishing children the best as they cross busy intersections.
Instead, they hold stop signs, blow whistles and walk with children through the road.
Now, as an author and pastor, I know every metaphor breaks down at some point. But I think the image of a crossing guard teaches us something about the heart, character and mission of Jesus.
You see, Jesus doesn’t sit on one side of eternity waving us across to Him. And He doesn’t join us on our side, only to pat us on the back and wish us good luck as we venture through the crossroads of life. Instead, He moves with us through the intersections of life. It is the heartbeat of John 1:14, “The Word became flesh, and moved into the neighborhood.” Could it be that these words are intended to be the heartbeat of the church as well? I believe so.
The ascension of Jesus has a lot to teach us about what Jesus is up to today. If we are not careful, Jesus’ ascension into the heavens after His death will come to mean that His work was finished, and that one day He will reappear when He comes to judge the world and to set all things right.
“Good luck as you cross the street of life, guys. Hope you make it to the other side.”
Here’s what Paul writes in Ephesians 4:10, “He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.” In other words, the ascension of Jesus isn’t a way for Him to escape this world, leaving us to navigate the intersections of life alone. It’s a declaration that he stands in the middle of the road, much like a crossing guard.
And this is important. When Heaven is a future reality, something that seems “way over there,” we are much more likely to hang out on the sidewalk. After all, who wants to cross a six-lane road without help?
But if Heaven is a present reality, one where Jesus stands in the road directing traffic and walking beside us, we move off the sidewalk and into road with confidence. We step into the intersections of life because Jesus is there.
Here are five ways embracing heaven as a present reality changes how we live today.
1.) The gospel becomes more than a series of steps.
Unfortunately, in many Christian circles, the gospel is reduced to: 1) trust in Jesus, 2) have our sins forgiven, 3) arrive in heaven after we die. Even though Jonathan Storment and I embrace these truths, we wrote Bringing Heaven to Earth because we believe the gospel is larger than a few simple steps.
Following Jesus isn’t about crossing our fingers, hanging on tight and waiting for eternity. It is an invitation to cross the road, to embrace a covenant relationship with the Creator. God gives us the opportunity to join him in all of the ways His mercy and goodness flow through the world.
When this reality sinks into our hearts, it changes how we see the world.