Seeing Heaven on Earth

The Vegas performer David Copperfield recently went through every magician’s worst nightmare—secrets to his magic trick had to be revealed. Copperfield was sued by a volunteer from the crowd who claims that he was injured during the performance. As a result, Copperfield’s producer had to show the courtroom the play-by-play as to how this trick is performed. With every detail, the mystique of the magician dissipated along with the smokescreen and the awe of the crowd. Once the magic is explained, the wonder disappears.

It seems today that much of the church can be explained and as a result there is little wonderment for its existence. We find that most churches exist because of shared lifestyles and interests. People gather with others who are most like themselves. This is true of ethnicity, education, profession and just about anything else that functions as an identifier. So, when the world sees the local church, the world sees something they can explain in terms much like their communities’ social clubs and affiliations. The church looks more like a natural phenomenon that is easily explained away than a supernatural movement that can only be explained because of God. The church is heaven’s outpost on earth and a demonstration of God’s supernatural work.

I love preaching about heaven. But I hardly preach about heaven in the way that you might expect. I do not preach about the place that you go to when you die, but what has erupted on earth because of the supernatural work of God. When Jesus walked the earth, He proclaimed that the kingdom of heaven had come and commissioned his disciples to say the same (Matt. 10:7). The King had come with power and authority and began to overthrow the dominion of darkness with every blind eye opened, every deaf ear unplugged, every dance of the lame and every song of the mute. Jesus came and gave us glimpse of heaven as he gave us a glimpse of himself. Where Jesus is, heaven is also there.

But upon his departure, Jesus poured heaven out upon his people and filled them with the Holy Spirit. By the presence and work of the Holy Spirit the church comes together as a diversely unified body with one hope, one Lord, one baptism and one God (Eph 4:4–6). This is not a programmatic organization, but an enigmatic organism that cannot be explained except that God has brought and is bringing all peoples together as a manifestation of heaven on earth. People who want to know what heaven is like should be able to join you for worship on Sunday with your church family and find out.  

For the month of July our state convention encourages our churches to demonstrate the supernatural and look like heaven. Of course, their desire is that we would always demonstrate the supernatural, but for this month more emphasis is given on reflecting heaven on earth. Pastors are invited to share pulpits with those who might not share their ethnicity, or choirs in congregations whose culture might not be the same. While the churches that make up our convention are diverse in just about every kind of category, they are unified together through a shared Savior who has provided the same Spirit for every gospel-centered, God-glorifying assembly. Consider how you and your church family can reveal the supernatural work of God in your community.    

When our congregations begin to see that Jesus is the common denominator who brings all peoples together, then the world will begin to see the supernatural—heaven on earth. Those outside the faith community will see the extraordinary because there is nothing ordinary about a church filled with peoples from every culture, every background, and from every walk of life, coming together as a family for the purpose of loving God by loving one another. A church who comes together like this does not do so with smoke, mirrors or lights, but by the supernatural, awe-inspiring power of God who reveals heaven on earth through a people who look and live like heaven. 

Joshua Crutchfield
Emmanuel Baptist Church in New Caney
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