Heaven is often viewed by many Christians as a place beyond the river that our souls go to after our sojourn on earth is over. With a doubt, such a view of the afterlife has had a direct influence on a great number of Christian evangelicals who believe that the saving of souls is the only duty of the Church. If earth is simply, in the words of Plato, a prison for our souls, meaning our bodies are evil and this world is utterly fallen and beyond hope, then it follows that only our souls matter, and therefore, all energies need to be poured out to convert as many as possible.
If one extrapolates this Platonian view of the body and this world, then what we do in this world outside of saving souls is totally irrelevant. Our souls have little to do with "worldly" issues such as poverty, injustice and other social issues. N.T. Wright’s, "Surprised by Hope," poses a direct critique of this popular view of heaven. Rather than heaven being a place for our souls after we die, Wright proposes that a biblical view of bodily resurrection of Christ supports a view that all Christian activity — spiritual as well as social — has eternal implications because God is in the process of redeeming not only souls but the entire created order.
Christ was the firstfruits of the new creation and we await his return when Jesus will re-establish his reign in a newly created heaven on earth. Admittedly, until Christ returns, all Christian efforts to curb poverty and injustice and disease is limited. Only God can usher in complete transformation. Yet, in the meantime, I believe Christians serve as those living embodiments of hope, foretastes of the new heaven and new earth. In our love for one another, in our indignation with all that is wrong in our world, in our unwavering faith in the midst of mounting evidence to throw in the spiritual towel, we are partcipating in God’s redemptive work.