N. T. Wright is my favorite biblical scholar. He has helped me work through many issues regarding biblical faith. Here’s an article where Wright addresses the concept of Heaven and how we have gotten it wrong. I highly suggest to not just read this article, but also work through the belief systems that have created a Heaven that keeps us from living out God’s life now. The Good News in all of this is that we don’t have to die in order to live!
First-century Jews who believed Jesus was Messiah also believed he inaugurated the Kingdom of God and were convinced the world would be transformed in their own lifetimes, Wright said. This inauguration, however, was far from complete and required the active participation of God’s people practicing social justice, nonviolence and forgiveness to become fulfilled.
Once the Kingdom is complete, he said, the bodily resurrection will follow with a fully restored creation here on earth. “What we are doing at the moment is building for the Kingdom,” Wright explained.
Indeed, doing God’s Kingdom work has come to be known in Judaism as “tikkun olam,” or “repairing the world.” This Hebrew phrase is a “close cousin” to the ancient beliefs embraced by Jesus and his followers, Wright said.