Here and Now: Thriving in the Kingdom of Heaven Today
WHO: Robby Gallaty, senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
HE SAYS: “Today, most Christians are trying to get out of this world; Jesus desires to break into this world through them.”
THE BIG IDEA: You can live a fulfilled, abundant life in your present circumstances.
Part 1, “The King Among His People,” introduces readers to the concept of the kingdom of heaven. In Part 2, “The Kingdom Among Us,” discusses heaven and how we can live fulfilled lives now. The book wraps up with “Kingdom Conduct,” a section that explores what kingdom living looks like today and what our role is in God’s kingdom—including living here and now as kingdom agents.
“Even though we will not experience every aspect of the kingdom until Jesus returns, we are invited to enter into and experience, in part, the kingdom here and now.”
A CONVERSATION WITH ROBBY GALLATY
How is our obsession with getting to heaven paralyzing or even problematic?
I heard someone say once, “When you’re so heavenly minded, you can become no earthly good.” When believers are self-absorbed, only focused on their own eternal rewards in heaven, we lose sight of our calling on earth. Jesus gave us a Commission to make reproducible followers of him. It’s called the Great Co-Mission for a reason: God expects our involvement. The reason he didn’t eject us into the elysian fields of paradise the moment we were born again is because there’s work to be done. You were saved not just from the world but for the world. Most evangelistic tactics move people toward making a decision or a convert; however, Jesus and his disciples focused on making disciples. New birth is necessary to move from life to death, but it doesn’t end there.
In what way does the book of Genesis paint a picture of heaven on earth?
The good news, according to Scripture, is that believers don’t have to wait to dwell with God. God’s creation of the universe was miraculous, but his desire to live among us is paramount. God’s design for heaven and earth in Genesis points to the concept of a temple, a dwelling place for God. God then populated his temple with people, fashioning mankind as an image of his glory. But sin marred that image; therefore, God took matters in his own hands by sending his Son to dwell as a man in order to accomplish the task Adam was incapable of doing—that is, living in perfect harmony with God. “What God does in sending the Son,” says one theologian, “is to establish Jesus as the Messiah, which means king, and God established in Jesus Christ the kingdom of God, which means the king is ruling in his kingdom.” God “with us” is sprinkled throughout the Bible.
What role do the Ten Commandments play in our experiencing the kingdom now?
The first four commandments speak to our relationship with God, and the final six deal with our relationship with others. The commandments were not unfair restrictions or infringements on their personal liberties; they were revolutionary, counter-cultural decrees. In Egypt the people were tempted by rampant paganism, sexual immorality, selfishness, greed and lust for power. God was setting a new standard. The law should not be viewed as a mere conduct to live by; it was a means for intimacy with a personal God who desired to dwell among his people. Their ultimate obedience to the commands of God was out of devotion, never mere duty. The commandments were a compass to righteous living and a right relationship with God.