Great balls of Fire –where could I be going with this?
This will take 2 min and 15 seconds. Hang in there.
1. Grace. Our life in heaven isn’t up to us. We’re not good enough or ready to be with a Holy God. God overlooks this. He, himself paid the debt, to cover over our deficit. Many of us remain awfully content with our goodness, or special knowledge to gain eternal life. But, this life beyond life remains fit as God’s territory singularly. Our residence there is a gift we could never afford. This is what is meant by Saving Grace.
2. Community. Interestingly, atheist Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that, “Hell is other people.” Many of us find being with others (who are not of our own choosing) gets difficult, tiresome, frustrating, annoying, or worse. Even extroverts don’t enjoy communing with every type of person. Some of us get to a point where we consider being with others something to consciously limit, or avoid. Sartre would be very uncomfortable in heaven, would you? God is Trinity, so God in its (pick your pronoun) own Divine essence is community. This is the basis for love-which must have a beloved, or personal recipient of love. And hence, community is the very stuff of heaven.
3. Humility Andrew Murray wrote a wonderful book called Humility: The Path to Holiness. In it, Murray aptly shows how humility was Jesus’ chief characteristic. Jesus was the human face of The Holy God. Jesus was not concerned with being humiliated, and didn’t consider himself above others, but a servant of all. Many of us have quite little of this characteristic that is plentiful in God, and in heaven.
4. Self-absorption Many of us tend to think life, and life after life is about us, and our needs. With this viewpoint, we would be quite out-of-place in heaven. The Kingdom of God is about loving God and others. In doing so, we are found, healed, known, and freed.
5. Idolatry The things that capture our attention, time, and desires are the gods we worship. They can even be good in themselves, like, staying healthy, or being devoted to our children, doing ministry service, or working hard. Whatever we love or enjoy become idols when they possess our main focus. It is our natural bent to allow things other than God, to become first priorities, but it is not good for us. When we have our life ordered properly, everything else falls into place well. In heaven, that will be the case. We will have a chance to learn, and enjoy many things far more amazing than we do in this life. The heavenly, top-down-priority system will likely jar many of us very much for a while.
6. Judging Many of us are not use to leaving the judging to God. As humans we are not in the position to be good, accurate, or fair judges. We are skewed because of our sin, and we are not innocent. However, this doesn’t seem to stop us from doing it to others. We won’t be foolish enough to do that in heaven. The time we typically use to surmise and judge others will be all freed up, leaving many of us feeling quite disoriented, perhaps. This adjustment could take some “time” to get used to.
7. Holy Fire God is good. How grateful we can be for this! But have you ever noticed when righteous people in the Bible meet an angel of God, they flip out, and feel very uncomfortable in the presence of holiness. God is so very good, and so very pure. In this way, God is like a refining fire in the presence of any impurity, or imperfection. Shock and awe, yet all together good. No darkness can exist in God’s Light. It makes one wonder if the course to be made in God’s image (and fit for heaven) will be wonderful… eventually, but the Fire of God’s Holiness will be more of a conflagration, of sorts, during the cleaning process. The process of spiritual growth isn’t for God’s benefit, but our own. All that is not right for heaven will be burned away in his presence, otherwise we really aren’t ready for paradise with him.
Perspectives on Heaven
Some people think, once we are in heaven, we will be instantly and miraculously transformed, and be suddenly fit for heaven. I have thought this, even wished for it. But, I’ve also had to ask myself, “Is it like God to do this? Or, does God most often–for our best interest–allow us to benefit by going through some kind of ‘refining fire’?” Would a shortcut make our characters Christlike and fit for, that is,fully comfortable, in heaven? I’m thinking, probably, nah. A Junior Varsity area might be a good idea.
Though we may be forgiven, and allowed admittance to the place where God has prepared for us, I wonder if God will still be interested in continuing to make our character more like his, in a process fashion, not unlike we normally learn, and experience reality. When we see him revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is; that is–knowing we are children of God. Understanding our connectedness. We are relational. But that may, in fact, be a process, and not be something that can or should be done instantaneously.
Author and philosopher, C.S. Lewis proposed that heaven could be a place where people would move deeper and further into heaven, and better awareness, as they were able to become accustomed to it. He goes into this quite a bit in his fictitious rendering of heaven in his short book called The Great Divorce. It’s well worth the read. The Catholic idea of Purgatory has a similar notion, of a holding spot, where the heaven-bound are refined in character, and prepared to be with a Holy God, in a holy place, forever.
Since I haven’t tried out the place, I won’t make a blanket or dogmatic pronouncement about how heaven must truly be, and how it may work. I’ll find out all too soon–as will you.
Regardless, of what you believe, or what may happen, it is important that we understand:
• God is Holy, and we are not.
• We cannot be with God, or in a heavenly place after this life without God mercifully allowing us to be.
• We must humble ourselves to our Creator, and be willing to be crafted into God’s divine character.
thank you for reading.
Please leave your thoughts, of any kind.