Where is Heaven?

By Linda Tancs

Where is Heaven? Heaven is where God is, our eternal home. But don’t just look up. Look around, too, because Heaven is all around you. As poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau put it, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

In other words, it’s more than just a salvific concept. The kingdom of Heaven is God’s presence in our daily lives, a real-time experience. As Jesus said in the gospels of Matthew and Mark, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15). It comes in the most ordinary moments of life, when we bridge our gaps with others and when we gather in a community of faith. Chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel gives us Jesus’s examples of our collaborative role in Kingdom work. For instance, He likens the Kingdom to a mustard seed that we, the people, sow in a field. In other discourse, He likens the Kingdom to yeast that a woman mixes with flour to leaven (Matthew 13:31-35). In each case, God provides the tools for our fruitful use, showing us that salvation is not something we have to wait for; it’s something we can experience in our everyday lives. The same message underlies Luke’s understanding of salvation. The healing scenes he presents give us examples of what different expressions of salvation in daily life look like (Luke: 4:31-37; 4:38-44; 5:12-16; 5:17-26; 7:1-10; 7:11-17; 7:21; 7:21; 8:40-56; 9:37-45; 13:10-17; 17:11-19; and 18:35-43).

Move beyond an individualistic view of salvation and look for the communal aspects of it.

From Nothing to Something

By Linda Tancs

How much faith would it take to move a mountain? According to Matthew 17:20, that which amounts to the size of a mustard seed will do. Given that a mustard seed ranges from approximately 0.039 to 0.079 inches in diameter, God asks very little of us in the faith department.

Our faith journey is a lot like the life cycle in the production of a mustard plant: germination, leaf development, stem elongation, inflorescence emergence, flowering, fruit development, ripening and senescence. Of course, we often get stuck at the planting stage. We doubt that germination will ever occur or, if it does, it might not be to our liking. We plant thought or word seeds that undermine our progress and impair the trust relationship we seek to have with God. Seeds need fertile soil to grow, the right conditions to manifest. It’s no accident that Jesus used a seed to make His point. And it’s more than just the concept of growth happening in a dark place. Arguably, the seed is the most powerful symbol on earth. What could be stronger than a seed? It pushes through the toughest elements—rocks, stones, piles of mulch—and yet is unthwarted in its mission to germinate.

Are you determined to nurture seeds of faith? Faith is strengthened by understanding God’s Word. Consider the parable of the sower that Matthew recounts in chapter 13. A seed sown along the path is akin to the Word of God that is not understood by the listener; it’s easily manipulated by the devil. A seed falling on rocky ground is the Word left unpracticed by the listener. It takes no root and is easily forsaken when trouble comes. A seed falling among thorns is the Word choked by worldly concerns and thus unable to bear fruit. The Word that is heard and understood is like a seed sown in fertile soil that yields a good harvest. So using our plant analogy, you’re more likely to flower and ripen if you don’t get choked by thorns. What are the thorns in your life? Do you trust God to bring you to victory?

Now back to that mustard plant. Which stage of the life cycle are you in? How did you get there? Where do you need to go next? Make it to the harvest (senescence) by renewing your mind daily with His Word.