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Walking through heaven

The question we so often get wrong is, "Where does God live?"

It's true that he "lives in our hearts" when we trust his Son. But the magnificent and boundless God can't simply be contained in the human heart. So where does he live in the larger sense?

He lives in heaven. Well, where's heaven? ... and there begins our problem.

Don't we tend to locate God far away ... in the heavens? Aren't we apt to say, "God's smiling down on us." Or, "Grandpa's up in heaven now, sweetheart." Up there somewhere.

Certainly, there's some Old Testament language that suggests heaven as "up there somewhere." God's people ask him to, "Look down from heaven, your holy dwelling place, and bless your people Israel and the land you have given us as you promised on oath to our forefathers, a land flowing with milk and honey." (Deut. 26:15)

And we have the command that, "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below."(Exod. 20:4)
Despite the apparent location of "heaven" as a place above and beyond the earth, there is still an intimacy and nearness with the God of the Old Covenant. He makes himself obvious as a giant tiki torch to guide his family, or in a burning bush or as a hiking companion in the Garden.

But something shifts with the arrival of Jesus. His kingdom becomes so near, you feel God breathing on your cheek. Your ears prickle as he whispers your name. When you believe him to be seated in your fellowship in "the empty chair" or in the car seat next to you, you're not imagining it or wishing it to be so: he is quite literally occupying that space. More than once, I have sensed God speaking behind me, over my shoulder.

As occupants of the Near and Now Kingdom, we are literally walking through heaven. Heaven is a kingdom that saturates the air around us as Dallas Willard (The Divine Conspiracy) reminds us: "But it is precisely from the space immediately around us that God watches and God acts." When he comes to deliver us, he doesn't journey to us from far off, or take the red eye, or fly in from space - he comes from out of the air next to us.

When you walk to your car, you walk through heaven. When you stand in line at the supermarket, your standing on royal grounds. The Kingdom of Heaven occupies the space around you, buzzing with the happy energy of the Royal Family. The kingdom of God has come near, as Jesus shouted. Heaven is now the real world.

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