06 Jan #050 – Integriosity – RENEW—Keep First Things First—Kingdom—Where We Are Going—A Restored City
ESSENCE: For a leader to lead an organization to faithfully “do right”, they must recognize that what they believe about “where we are going someday” profoundly impacts “how we act today”. A Restoration understanding of heaven means the “very good” creation that left plenty of room for our creative and productive cultivation will finally be perfected as a refined city on a hill. A BIGGER GOSPEL reveals that the Restoration understanding of heaven we learn from Revelation gives forward-looking purpose and relevance to the underlying importance of work we can only learn from Genesis–they are the book-ends.
We are exploring the idea of a BIGGER GOSPEL (four parts instead of just two)–one that starts with Creation and goes all the way to God’s restoration plan for His Kingdom on earth (with the Fall and Redemption through Jesus sandwiched in the middle), and we finished digging into Creation to show that it is impossible to understand God’s purpose for work or business without looking at Genesis. It is also impossible to understand God’s purpose for work and business without looking at Revelation and God’s plan for His Kingdom!
Where We Are Going: A Restored City
This may be one of the most theologically controversial posts we write, but it is also one of the most important. It is important because our understanding of “where we are going someday” profoundly affects “how we act today”. At the risk of oversimplifying, there are basically two Biblical views of heaven (and what happens to earth):
- Rapture. People going to heaven are whisked off to an ethereal heaven and the earth burns up (we don’t need to get into theological debates regarding: whether there is a hell; if there a hell, who goes there and who goes to heaven; and if there is a hell, whether it is eternal).
- Restoration. Heaven is here on earth in a restored Kingdom that unites God’s dimension with our earthly dimension.
At Integrous, we believe in the Restoration option. What a perfect realization of the Creation Mandate for Restoration to come as a gleaming city rather than just the beautiful garden where it all started. The “very good” garden creation that left plenty of room for our creative and productive cultivation will finally be perfected as a refined city on a hill. Because we are not theologians, we highly recommend N.T. Wright’s book Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church for a discussion of the two views of heaven, their genesis, as well as an explanation of what we actually learn from the Bible. Here are a few excerpts:
Traditionally, of course, we suppose that Christianity teaches about a heaven above, to which the saved or blessed go, and a hell below, for the wicked and impenitent.
It comes as something of a shock, in fact, when people are told what is in fact the case: that there is very little in the Bible about “going to heaven when you die” and not a lot about a postmortem hell either. The medieval pictures of heaven and hell, boosted though not created by Dante’s classic work, have exercised a huge influence on Western Christian imagination.
But the language of heaven in the New Testament doesn’t work that way. “God’s kingdom” in the preaching of Jesus refers not to postmortem destiny, not to our escape from this world into another one, but to God’s sovereign rule coming “on earth as it is in heaven.” The roots of the misunderstanding go very deep, not least into the residual Platonism that has infected whole swaths of Christian thinking and has misled people into supposing that Christians are meant to devalue this present world and our present bodies and regard them as shabby or shameful.
Heaven, in the Bible, is not a future destiny but the other, hidden, dimension of our ordinary life—God’s dimension, if you like. God made heaven and earth; at the last he will remake both and join them together forever. And when we come to the picture of the actual end in Revelation 21–22, we find not ransomed souls making their way to a disembodied heaven but rather the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth, uniting the two in a lasting embrace.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)
You might ask, “This is interesting, but how could it possibly matter to how I lead my organization?” Let’s borrow once more from N.T. Wright:
What we say about death and resurrection gives shape and color to everything else.
What we believe about where we are going someday profoundly impacts how we act today. The Restoration understanding of heaven we learn from Revelation gives forward-looking purpose and relevance to the underlying importance of work we can only learn from Genesis. They are the book-ends.
Work is where we spend most of our waking hours, and it has a greater purpose than just “to pay the bills”. A leader can’t lead an organization to faithfully “do right” without understanding and embracing a BIGGER GOSPEL with a full understanding of the necessity of work in God’s design of His creation and the relevance of work in God’s restoration plan. We believe it is time for “business a better way” in alignment with Biblical values and priorities–it is time to begin faithfully “doing right” through Integriosity®.
SPOILER ALERT: In our next post, we will examine the relevance of work in God’s restoration plan..
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): I admit it–I spent my life believing heaven was “up there somewhere” and hell was “down there somewhere”. I imagined myself (hopefully) getting whisked off to a cloud where I would meet St. Peter at the Pearly Gates and be welcomed through some affirmative action program (since there were likely to be so few lawyers). I am eternally grateful to the people I was privileged to meet and hear through the New Canaan Society who opened my eyes, including N.T. Wright. I will never forget the reaction of one NCS brother when he found out that N.T. Wright would be the keynote speaker at an upcoming NCS Retreat: “N.T. Wright!?!? But I am looking forward to my Rapture!”