Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What is Heaven Like?

     There can be no doubt about it, this is a fascinating question. We've all seen many pictures, movies, paintings, etc., designed to give us some type of glimpse into the afterlife, and what we might be able to expect upon our arrival.

    Having never been there myself, it would be quite difficult for me to offer a detailed description. Sure, I could send you to bible verses which would give you a general idea of what heaven is like, but that really wouldn't help very much. Why? Well, have you ever gone somewhere exceptionally beautiful for a vacation, then returned and tried to explain what it looked like to someone who had never been there? It's impossible, isn't it? Even if you have the ability to pull out 100's of photographs to show them what you had seen, the conversation always ends the same way, doesn't it? You realize that they're not really 'getting it,' so you say something like "You'd really have to see it for yourself to appreciate it."

   If that's the case when trying to describe some relatively meaningless vacation destination, how much more would that apply to the place none of us have seen, but which was created specifically for us so that we might enjoy spending eternity there in the presence of God?

   So, why would I write a blog asking "What is Heaven Like?, and then offer no description of heaven within it?

   Because eternal perspective is an incredibly powerful thing, and the first answer that comes to mind when you ask yourself that question is already having a major impact upon the life you choose to lead here on earth. Think I'm wrong? Consider the following:

   If you have no belief that heaven exists; that it's all just a fairytale, you will live a life that is completely void of any need to live in ways that are pleasing to God. You may be an honest, law-abiding citizen. You may help the needy and feed the hungry. You might be a great neighbor. But you will not feel any desire whatsoever to know who God is.

   If you believe that heaven is a wonderful place where all of us go (Unless you're Charlie Manson or John Wayne Gacy) then you will feel no need to explore a deeper relationship with Christ, because after all, you haven't killed anyone, right?

   These are both lies thrown at the world by the enemy himself, and both will lead to an eternity far from the heaven you might be seeking. But there's another danger I've been seeing in recent years. It's very subtle, but it's a natural conclusion drawn from what we've all been told about who we are as people over the past few decades. I've watched as it has woven itself into nearly every aspect of the church world, and through the mindset of many believers within the church.

   It's all about us.

   When asked the question "What is Heaven like?" how many of you immediately had thoughts about what you would do there, or who you would see, or how you would feel? How many of you thought about what your new body would look like? If your old pets would be there?

   Here's the thing, friends: Heaven isn't about us. It's all about God. It's about spending eternity in His presence, not because we did wonderful things that were deserving of such a great honor, but by the grace of God himself.

   That's what the entire bible is about, from cover to cover. God is the most holy, powerful, and magnificent God. He, not us, has every right to decide who will spend eternity with him, and who will not.

   The incredibly loving, compassionate side of God can also be found here, because he didn't set up some kind of 'survival of the fittest' competition to determine who will be there and who won't. He only asks these things of us: That we know him and love him with all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our strength. That we would believe in Jesus Christ - who was God in the flesh, and who died as a perfect sacrifice for every sin we might ever commit - and that we would give him his rightful place as Lord of our lives.

   If we truly believe all of these things, we will spend eternity in a place far more beautiful than anything we've ever seen, and in the presence of a God who loves us more than we could ever imagine. Not because we deserve to be there due to anything we've done, but because he extended his grace to us, allowing us to join him there in spite of all we've done. And what's more, we are also given the great honor of being guided, directed, protected, and used by him here on earth in ways we never dreamed possible.

   So tell me, if that is what you believe heaven is like, what would that change about how you live today?