I’ll try to make this one quick. But this is the point about the whole No Rapture thing: Christians are not going to go somewhere else. Heaven is coming down to earth. From Revelations 21:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
Revelations 3:20 forewords this idea.
This idea that heaven is far away and above us is really a Greek concept. This idea that we all leave this cursed planet and live as body-less beings on some celestial clouds is not only immensely boring, but woefully dangerous and erroneous (suggesting that our bodies and the material world is irrefutably broken beyond even God’s hand is Platonism – not Jewish and not Christian). There’s a reason why so much of the language of Revelations echoes the language of the Garden of Eden.
We are not leaving this corrupted planet to destruction. We are called to redeem it; the same work that Christ began at his resurrection, the same work that is being done on us, is the same work that God is calling us to do throughout his creation. And has already begun doing. And will see to completion with the new heaven.
Jesus hinted at this in talking so much about the Kingdom of Heaven (see specifically, the mustard seed analogy) and in the Lord’s Prayer, we have this idea of “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God is going to fuse heaven and earth together some time in the future. He has started to do that through the resurrection of Jesus, though. And the Body of Christ is active in helping to piece this all together.
Our job, then, is not to leave this world the same we found out, let alone worse, but better. We have work to do, and it is this type of work that I think that St. Paul is referring to when he says that a man shall not eat if he don’t do no work.
A little snippet from Bishop Wright again:
“If you really believe that what happens at death is that you leave behind the world of space, time and matter, you are never going to be bothered with it again, you’re never going to have a physical body again and that ultimately God is going to throw this whole world on the rubbish heap somewhere, then what’s the fuss to work for justice in the present?” he said. “What’s the fuss about AIDS, what’s the problem about global debt, you know these are trivial and irrelevant. What matters is whether you’re going to heaven tomorrow or next week.”
Wright said the notion of new heavens and a new earth motivates him “enormously.”