Sunday, July 10, 2005

Heaven is not about you and me!

I was discussing heaven the other night with a friend. For over twenty years I have thought of heaven as a place of Mrs. Johnson’s doughnuts and flag football. Mrs. Johnson’s was a bakery in Austin that we frequented while I was at Southwestern. The doughnuts were incredible; so incredible I figured they must be available for eternity.

My friend mentioned that there must be cats in heaven. I tried to be polite, but I had to admit that my vision of heaven had no place for cats. Well, on second thought, heaven will be a big place; so maybe cats can live on the other side.

That’s when the theological light went on in my head. For years I’ve thought of heaven as made up of things I love and that bring me peace, comfort, and happiness. But what happens when things that bring me peace, comfort, and happiness don’t get along with what brings others these same feelings? How could heaven me full of mutually exclusive things?

All of a sudden I realized how selfish it is to think that heaven is made up entirely of things I love. The motivation behind this theology is honorable. There will be no pain, suffering, or sadness in heaven. “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).

But I have had it backwards for two decades! The reason for the ultimate peace and joy of heaven is not that it will be filled with what I want or what you want; the reason is that we will be entirely in the presence of God!

I may be able to play touch football and eat doughnuts there. You may have cats with
you. Whether or not we do, we will have the very presence of God, and, by comparison, football, doughnuts, cats, or anything else, will pale by comparison.

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