Last night, our church finished a study of N.T. Wright's Simply Christian. We took it chapter by chapter for 16 weeks and each chapter was led by one of our Session members. I am somewhat saddened that it is over because it was such a great study. However, this book is one that not only informed me, but changed the way I see everything, so it's not really "over" in that sense. I will try to be brief in my attempt to communicate Wright's fundamental message.
There are three basic ways that people seek God:
Option 1. God is everywhere and in everything including me, you, the trees, and your pet rabbit. This is the pantheistic view.
Option 2. God and His heaven exists in some faraway place unreachable by humans. This earth is vile and corrupt and will be destroyed and replaced at some point by this faraway God and His heaven. Thus, earthly things and physical things do not matter much in eternity. This is sort of a Deist view.
Option 3. Heaven and earth interlock and overlap. The Christian life is primarily focused on doing God's will in this world and bringing it closer to the ideal--the way God intended it to be. God is not a tree or a pet rabbit, but those are part of His creation. God is also close and visible at times in this present world, but his full renewal is not complete.
Wright goes with Option 3. My tradition growing up and most Christians that I know/knew lean more toward Option 2. Seeing the world as an "Option 3 person" changes everything. This view seems much more consistent with the story of the Bible (Israel being constantly renewed and called to reconciliation with God). The redemption of the world is not only future, but also past and present. As instruments in this world, we get to participate in its restoration now and in the future.
That's my feeble attempt at a short summary. I am really making an effort to value brevity in my speaking and writing these days. For more, please do read Simply Christian. I am confident that it will challenge you.