mithig (mo-núarán!) lasin trúagán trúag-sa.
O grant me its joys, after vict’ry is won;
The topic of Heaven regularly comes around in Bible teaching curriculum. As teachers, we are charged with teaching the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) which includes the after-life. But how to approach the topic can vary widely.
In our 21st century context, we often approach the issue with the goal of dispelling misconceptions of Heaven or the after-life, because in our pluralistic society, there are many!
Misconceptions of Heaven
There is the prevalent and eternally dangerous idea that Heaven is reserved for “good people”. This misconception is addressed directly (and indirectly) when the Gospel is presented well. Then there is the mistaken idea of Heaven as the non-corporeal state in which the recently dead suddenly appear. In addition, there is the idea that the dead somehow become “angels”, and likely a dozen more misconceptions.
But the one that seems to be the biggest hang-up for us post-moderns is the image of Heaven as a Gary Lasrson cartoon: Disembodied spirits, placidly sitting on a cloud, strumming harps in quiet contemplation of eternity.
Is that what “victory” looks like?
Misconceptions about the afterlife were not a stumbling block for me in my early walk with Jesus, simply because I didn’t think about it. I didn’t accept Jesus as Lord and Savior in order to obtain eternal life. I wasn’t thinking about that when I became a Christian. Heaven was kind of an extra-added-bonus-treat that was brought to my attention later by good teachers.
Eternal Church Services?
But some of the images presented to me were, how do I say this politely…unhelpful. The composite picture I walked away with was kind of an eternal church service. Now, don’t get me wrong: I like church services (well, most of them) but I’m not interested in an eternal one! In fact, I can conceive of no one thing I want to experience eternally!Unless…
….Unless that “one thing” is a new kind of life.
We forget that the promise of eternity is a new Heaven, a new Earth (Revelation 21) and a new body – none of which is subject to decay, pain or sin. The promise is a life which contains diversity of experience, sensation, challenge, change, growth, adventure, learning and intimacy.
“THAT was pri-tee good day…”
Remember the scene in the Bill Murray film “Ground Hog Day” when Murray’s character recounts a particular vacation day he wished he could be living over and over again rather then the dreary one he was eternally trapped in?
“THAT was pri-tee good day…” he ruefully says.
Well, “Heaven” is going to put that day to shame. Blend all of your greatest joys of this life together, amplify them, eliminate any shadow of pain, shame or fear and then place the source of all love at the center of it…
…the Joys of Christ’s victory.