Heaven Is Where You Make It

"Heaven visited me"
Photo credit: Kevin Dooley

2 Peter 1:1-11

A letter from Simon Peter, a follower and messenger of Jesus.

To those whose commitment to God’s justice and to Jesus our savior equals ours, may grace and peace be fully yours by knowing God and following Jesus. Jesus’ godly power gives us everything we need to live and to live well. Knowing he called us out of his sheer goodness is sufficient. Out of that goodness, he’s given us a rare and wonderful gift: the chance to be divine, to escape the degrading grind and greed of the world.

Because of this opportunity, you must make every effort, not just to be faithful, but also to be good. And to be avid learners. And to control yourselves. And to be persistent. And to live well. And to take care of others. And to love. If you do these things, and you’re getting better at them, you’ll never be wasting time or be unproductive, knowing Jesus. But lacking these things, you’re left shortsighted to the future and blind to the errors of the past.

So, friends, eagerly fulfill your chosen calling. Do it and you’ll never go wrong. Do it and Jesus will welcome you into heaven with open arms.

Most Biblical scholars worth their salt will agree that 2 Peter has nothing to do with the disciple except the name. It’s what they call a pseudonymous letter: written in the name of some great figure to claim a greater authority.

Knowing this, the question is why it continues to be kept in the New Testament as representative of the apostolic line of thought. The answer Bible scholars generally give is that perhaps it’s by a student or follower of Peter, or someone in the church community that formed around Peter. But truly, the answer is: because it’s always been there.

If anything, the letter shows how within one, perhaps two, generations the “here and now” movement of Jesus had been morphed into a “hereafter and beyond” religion of pie in the sky. Instead of doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, this writer urges us to do the right thing as a way to buy a stairway to heaven.

Jesus would say that every day is another opportunity to make every effort, not just to be faithful, but also be good, learn something, to exercise self-discipline, be persistent and live well, to take care of others and to love. Only Jesus would say that to do so makes us children of God here and now.

Wherever and whenever you do these things, that’s where and when Jesus says heaven happens: “The kingdom of God is among you,” not in the hereafter. So for the love of Jesus, do them for the joy of living now, not in the “degrading grind” of punching the clock waiting for an escape to the eternal.