“As Jesus proclaims and pointed to it, the kingdom of God is not an evacuation plan to rescue people from earth or to just save people from the sufferings of the afterlife,” McBayer said. “Rather, it is a revolutionary strategy to redeem the sufferings of earth by putting the rule and reign of heaven inside of people.”
As McBrayer, a columnist for The Walton Sun and The Rushville Republican, read and studied the “red letter words” of the gospels, he discovered that Jesus was into storytelling.
“Jesus was not as much into doctrine and dogma as we Christians are,” McBrayer said. “So when he spoke about the kingdom of God he spoke about dinner parties and wedding feasts. He told tales about wandering sheep and prodigal sons. He talked about farmers sowing seed in a field, mustard seed taking over a garden like kudzu, yeast consuming a lump of dough, and a poor man discovering a lost treasure.”
Jesus told stories rather than wrote creeds, and it is these stories that fill “How Far is Heaven?” Many of the parables begin with “The kingdom of God is like …” and Jesus stressed the importance of the present kingdom of God.
“Jesus never defined the kingdom of God, he described it,” McBrayer said. “He expounded about it, but never really explained it. He compared the kingdom of God to certain things, but he never clarified.”
“How Far Is Heaven” explores these kingdom parables and calls for people to reassess the gospel they believe and the role faith plays in the world today.
“When Jesus invited his disciples — then as well as now – to ‘Follow me,’ he was inviting us to get in on the world-redeeming, evil-conquering, status-reversing, life-transforming movement of God that had come to earth,” McBrayer said. “He was inviting us to find a better way to live — to find the power for a better world, today, not just in the hereafter.”
“How Far is Heaven? Rediscovering the Kingdom of God in the Here and Now” can be purchased online at www.wipfandstock.com, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.
Reprinted from Pam Griffin, Faith Editor for the Destin Log, Destin, Fla./Walton Sun, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.