Saturday, January 2, 2016

Heaven, Are You Looking Forward to It?

I am currently reading a book by Randy Alcorn on the subject of Heaven (Title is simply: “Heaven”) and it has been the first book in some time to get my inner thoughts to a place where my imagination is being actively stimulated.

Now, if you know me at all, you might find the above statement to be a bit difficult to believe. I mean, what with me being a poet and a huge fiction fan (i.e. – my overwhelming (at times) obsession with all things Star Wars). I can tell you though, that the last few years have been some of the most challenging of my lifetime. They have been challenging for many reasons, and with that said my imagination has been lying dormant a great deal lately.

The sometimes ugly aspects of reality can have that effect on you.

The author of the book I mentioned earlier in simplest form has proposed that many of us (ok maybe the majority of us) have developed a false picture of what heaven is really like and thus we do not really look forward to it and at worst, we are afraid of an eternity in heaven!

Now, you must understand that I have no intention with this piece to even remotely try and create my own edition of a book on heaven to act as a companion piece to an already great book created by the aforementioned author. On the contrary, I am writing this piece as a hopeful stimulus to you my reader to maybe take up a long forgotten inner dialog regarding your own thoughts on heaven.

 Many of us have subscribed to the simple view of heaven where we simply exist as insubstantial ghostly beings that spend an eternity worshiping God. Now, before you begin to get riled up at me, please understand that I do believe that the scriptures do support that we will in fact worship God in person in heaven. What I am saying is that we simply won’t be doing that ad infinitum all through eternity. I agree with the author that this is simply not supported by scripture.

Think about how Jesus related to we humans in his life as a man on Earth. Did He treat us in a very distant manner where He behaved as if He was aloof to our existence? Just chew on that thought for a few minutes and when you are done, think on a few of the following scriptural examples of His interactions with we lowly human beings.

1)     His actions surrounding the death of His friend Lazarus.
2)     His treatment of Thomas’ doubt.
3)     His interactions with Peter in particular as an apostle and a man.

My list above is very small and I’m sure that if you have been through your Bible a few times on your own over the years, you can add many others to your list.

What I am getting at that maybe goes above what Randy Alcorn discusses, is simply this: If God has created us in His image, if He thought enough of us to walk with and interact with us physically both in the garden and as a man through the person of Jesus, if He cares enough for us to answer our individual needs through our daily walk, then how could we fall into thinking that our eternity would consist of our not interacting with Him in similar ways?

What Randy Alcorn asks of us to consider is that our visions of Heaven are incomplete and not aligned with scripture. What he proposes too is that many of our thoughts that have lead us to lose sight of heaven and to not truly look forward to it. He suggests that this has its roots in deceptions that come straight from Satan himself.

Think about it…

Satan once had privilege. He once had a place in Heaven and knows exactly how great it is. He also knows that he has lost that privilege forever and can never gain it back. He is the father of lies and they are his native language. With that in mind, wouldn’t it just make a load of sense for him to want to deceive us about heaven and to so mess up our image of heaven that we ultimately don’t look forward to it and maybe in fact secretly dread it?

Now, with all of that said, I am not going to beat you over the head and tell you that you must change your mind on how Heaven looks based on any loose arguments that I may propose. What I do ask you to do though is this: Reconsider your thoughts on Heaven if they don’t align with scripture. Examine your thoughts on Heaven to see if you truly long for the day when you can leave here to go to our true home and to live with Christ, yes, but also to experience His creation as it was meant to be experienced… in a physical way… surrounded by a revitalized creation and all of the beauty that He created (and is re-creating) for us to enjoy which includes all of the vital human relationships (with those that also follow Christ) that we have nurtured here on the fallen Earth.

Finally, I think that it follows that if we have a truly healthy view of Heaven and our relationship to God in it, then in our looking forward to our future in it, we will have a renewed sense of urgency to share the Gospel with those who are lost and in need of Christ. We cannot share the Gospel with those who are lost with any conviction or persuasion if we have no actual passion or enthusiasm for our future in eternity. It may be time to examine our beliefs on Heaven so that we can be better ambassadors for Christ going forward.

Time to get off the fence. Examine your heart. Get right with Christ and align your beliefs with scripture. Find your joy again and ask God to renew your longing for Heaven and an eternity spent with Him and the ones we love.

In Christ,

Mike Meehan