Also by this author: What if Jesus Was Serious ... About Prayer?: A Visual Guide to the Spiritual Practice Most of Us Get Wrong
Series: What If Jesus Was Serious
Published by Brazos Press on October 17, 2023
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Theology
Buy on Amazon
Many Christians think about heaven as a distant place we go after we die. But what if it's a very real kingdom available to us right now, here on earth?
In What If Jesus Was Serious about Heaven?, Skye Jethani unpacks what Jesus really said about heaven and how it can transform our faith today. The fourth in Jethani's popular What If Jesus Was Serious? series, this guide includes the author's hand-drawn illustrations in each chapter.
Jethani explores the importance of the kingdom of heaven in Jesus's ministry, message, and parables. In doing so, he redefines the popular understanding of heaven as a celestial home for the dearly departed and reimagines our role in God's kingdom here on earth. This book shows what Jesus and his first followers knew about heaven that we get wrong and helps us recapture what it means for God's kingdom to be present on earth right now.
Skye Jethani’s “What if Jesus was Serious?” books are sort of like blog posts being printed out and bound in book form. And I mean that as a compliment. In fact, I wonder if the genesis of this idea came from seeing the success of Randall Munroe’s What If?, an adaptation of his webcomic, XKCD, for the printed page. What Munroe does for science, Jethani does for theology, albeit (as the title suggests) with a little more seriousness (though not devoid of humor, either).
The latest book in the series is What If Jesus Was Serious About Heaven? Heaven is one of the most misunderstood and mischaracterized concepts within Christianity. Pop culture presents it as a place in the clouds where everyone has wings and a halo. Some strains of Christianity portray it as this place for disembodied, saved souls who are awaiting the end of days. Other strains refer to it more generally as just the location of God’s being. But if heaven is something different? What if heaven is God’s Kingdom and God’s Kingdom is among us right now?
That’s how Jethani begins, by redrawing our map of heaven. Changing from a heaven-centric faith where “this is where you go when you die” to a Christ-centric faith where “this is how you live now.”
What If Jesus Was Serious About Heaven? is structured into five parts, each addressing different aspects of heaven and its implications for Christian faith. He talks about how the Kingdom of Heaven has come near in Jesus, explores the parables to examine what Jesus said this Kingdom was like, goes into the Lord’s Prayer to speak about doing God’s will on earth. Jethani is able to make the case vividly and clearly that heaven is not just a future reality, it’s one living in the present right now.
Within each chapter are little sub-topics. Each little essay is 3-4 pages, begins with an illustration, and ends with recommended reading from the Bible. While this book isn’t explicitly aimed at kids, as someone who spent significant time as a youth pastor, I see these books as a perfect resource for that middle and high school age. Jethani isn’t comprehensive, but he’s clear and conversational. It’s a wonderful introduction to the topic.
Jethani’s accessible writing style, combined with his insightful theological exploration, makes this book a valuable read for anyone interested in understanding the Christian concept of heaven more deeply. While it may leave some readers desiring more comprehensive coverage of certain topics, its thought-provoking content and unique presentation make it something to check out. The highlight of this book is that’s a book for non-readers. Theology can be daunting. Working your way out of poor pop theology is hard. What If Jesus Was Serious About Heaven? makes the work easy and accessible.