Christian Counseling: Thinking About Heaven

The not always liberal Time magazine (April 16, 2012) published a thought-provoking article by a Christian man, Jon Meacham, entitled, "Heaven Can't Wait" with the subtitle, "Why rethinking the hereafter could make the world a better place."

The article contrasts a traditional view of heaven, which many Christians hold, with one that is not well understood, but well supported by Scripture. The author poses this question: "What if Christianity is not about enduring this sinful, fallen world in search of a reward of eternal rest?" Is heaven meant to be seen only as a place to go to after death; something to passively wait for? Is heaven a spiritual world completely separate from this earthly world?  Is it only to be seen as a tangible place with pearly gates? Is it about rejoining with loved ones or just about the praise and worship of Jesus at the throne described in Revelation, chapter 4? Seemingly, according to the experiences and needs of people, so goes their focus on and view of what heaven will be like. For example, Meacham says that African Americans, during the Civil War, viewed heaven as a "glorious afterlife, a release from their earthly chains." In the loss of a loved one, do we not primarily think of heaven as a happy occasion to be reunited?

Here is another view that is being theologically debated and, I believe, makes rational and Biblical sense and definitely has the greater potential to impact the way we live life on earth. Heaven and earth are not completely disconnected, but are connected now and at the last. Meacham quotes Nicholas Thomas Wright (former Anglican bishop of Durham, England), "Heaven, in the Bible, is not a future destiny but the other, hidden dimension of our ordinary life--God's dimension, if you like," It appears Wright is not denying a non-earthly heaven, but suggesting there is more. 

In my view, there is a tangible, temporary heaven (the throne of Revelation 4) and the permanent heaven to be created, the New (Greek, restored) Jerusalem (Revelation 22:1,2) that will come down to the new (Greek, restored) earth. The two shall be united at the last. But God also desires the two meld in the every day life of each Christian.

There is also an intangible heaven that exists in the here-and-now on earth. It is a spiritual sense of heaven. We find this in the words of Jesus when He speaks about the "kingdom of heaven." It is present; something we can enter now and not have to wait until we die to enter. It is now that we are "disciples of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 13:52). We are told to "seek His kingdom" and that He gladly gave us this kingdom (Luke 12:31,32). This kingdom is not a place, but a matter of heart; a belief and set of principles to live by. We are to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth; to begin the transformation process of earth into heaven by our way of life and Spirit-driven good works.

Bringing heaven to earth is a responsibility of all Christians. It is our purpose in life. It is our life's work where we covenant with God to devote ourselves to speaking the truth that overtakes destructive falsehood, spins and lies, establishing peace that unites people in harmony, acting in righteousness that subdues evil, and freely giving love that encourages the faint-hearted, feeds the hungry, and seeks justice for all people. The unseen heaven on earth presses us to not just pass through this life, but to make a difference and reveal the life of God and His goodness and hope on earth as the foreshadow of that which lies beyond.      

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Karem wrote:
I could watch Scnhdiler's List and still be happy after reading this.

05/30/2012 @ 10:26 PM

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