In an iconic scene from the film ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’, travelling companions Neal Page and Del Griffith are attempting to drive from St Louis to Chicago, when Del spins the car and ends up driving the wrong way down the freeway. A couple driving the right way scream across at them, ‘You’re going in the wrong direction.’ Assuming the couple are drunk Neal and Del ignore their advice and only narrowly avoid a head-on collision just moments later.
In a somewhat similar way I imagine that, were he alive, the Apostle Paul might want to call across to Christians of today, who think in terms of ‘going to heaven’, that we too are ‘going in the wrong direction.’ As a Jew Paul was quite convinced that the opposite was going to be the case, heaven was coming to earth. God wasn’t giving up on creation and sending the ‘saved’ into some disembodied other worldly life after death, but rather was coming to rescue and restore a physical world that was broken. That’s why Jesus taught his disciples to pray ‘Your kingdom come’, why the angels at His ascension said that he would return in physical form, and why Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that one day Jesus would ‘come down from heaven.’