John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (ESV)
Destination theology? That is an invalid expression. Theology is the study of God. Destination is a place you go. How do you suppose we got mixed up and starting talking about the things of God as if we were on a journey to a destination? Maybe it goes back to the garden. Maybe as humans when we left the garden we assumed that the garden was God’s home and ours was outside the garden since He put us there. That implies separation of some kind, right? Interesting that you don’t see God confined by the garden fence. No the gates of the garden didn’t keep God in. Actually the gates of Heaven have never kept God in as if that were His home and He didn’t want to leave it. He has always been with us and pursued us.
No I believe that “destination theology” is a concept that we fallen humans made up. The idea of achieving certain criteria or gaining certain status or signing a proper contract to get to an ultimate destination is not what God intended at all. There is evidence everywhere in the bible that discussions of “destination” are a concept not a reality. Man loves to use location metaphors. Location is a perspective not geography. God is everywhere. The Kingdom of Heaven is here:
Luke 17:21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (ESV)
The Kingdom is where the King is. We are bringing the Kingdom to Earth. The Kingdom is in the presence of God. In the presence of God is His glory. His glory is His goodness manifest. In His glory and goodness and mercy and grace I can “see” that He is love. He isn’t transmitting or expressing love but is the very substance of love. When I bring the Kingdom I am bringing love. Somewhere along the way we confused God’s plan with a religious paradigm. We got confused and “lost our way.” I say we “get back on the path.” See how easy it is to fall into the metaphors of geography and travel? It is our nature to think this way.
Jesus was about to be crucified. In His death and resurrection we see God’s ultimate plan for the revelation of Himself. Jesus becomes all the ugliness of humanity, takes it to the grave, leaves it there and comes back in glory. In doing this He “prepared” us to receive Him. In our fallen state we wouldn’t think of our person being a dwelling place of God. In our fallen nature we would still be hiding in the bushes. In our fallen nature we were so afraid of an “angry God” that merging with Him would be unthinkable. When we see Jesus on the cross we see our ugliness removed. When we see Jesus on the cross we see our fears put to death. When we see God taking all our sin and all the consequences of our sinning into Himself and His response is “forgive them” we are forever changed. Jesus dies as mankind and our fallen nature dies with Him.
Then He is raised from the dead. His response to life is to bring us peace. He breaths Himself into us. He gives us the breath of life. He breathes resurrection life into our bodies. He becomes one with us. He makes us a new creation. He makes us a new kind of creature. We become His dwelling place. We become His temple, His tabernacle, His home, His house, His room in His mansion. We died with Him and we are resurrected with Him. Just like Jesus we are born of a woman and born of the Spirit. Just like our savior we are saved. Just like our Brother we are adopted as His children. Jesus takes us as His bride and we are joined in marriage. We are inseparable in a covenant relationship that will never be broken because death has been defeated. Covenants are for life and we are now living an eternal life. We will never die. We will never be out of Covenant again. We drank His life blood and now we are living His life.
Yeah, it is that simple. I can hear you laughing. So maybe the simplicity of God is infinity for us. So maybe destination metaphors make more sense to our “simple” minds. That is what Jesus was doing here:
John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Can you see now what Jesus was talking about?
This word “place” is a really interesting. It can mean a literal location but it can also mean “opportunity.” When I saw that I was really blown away. Jesus was telling them that He was going to make ready an opportunity for them.
In our fallen state we hide in the bushes, we separate ourselves from God. God isn’t separating Himself from us. We are being reconciled to God. We have made God our enemy. God has never seen us as His enemy. The issues are on our side. This is likely why we talk in terms of location. Jesus goes and “makes an opportunity” by taking everything from us that keeps us from Him. He takes every excuse and replaces it with purpose. He removes every wrong idea and replaces it with His mind. We no longer think like frightened Adams but instead we are inhabited by glorious Jesus.
This was God’s plan. Much of it is a mystery to me still and will likely be a mystery forever. That is a good thing. Now I have something to talk to Jesus about forever. Knowing God, getting to know God, being intimate with God, being intimated by God is our eternal life:
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (ESV)
When we can “see” this and live this and experience this and thrive in this reality of eternal life, we are set free from everything that isn’t eternal. Hopefully you are seeing all the “play on words” in this revelation.
Separation from God is a man concept. Separation from God is a man issue. God has never been apart from us. He will never be apart from us. Separation from God concepts, when fueled by the fear of religion is how we get so jacked up in our thinking. Doctrines like “heaven” and “hell” and “eschatology” become huge stumbling blocks in our present day reality of “eternal life.” Let’s stop with the “destination theology” and stick with knowing God theology. Our eternal life is today and is here because it is knowing God. It is now and has always been and will forever be just Jesus.