I was talking to a friend who said that he did not want me to think poorly of him for his lack of excitement about going to heaven one day. From his perspective, there is so much beauty in this world that he has not seen or experienced that the prospect of dying and “going to heaven for eternity” by comparison seemed like a huge let down.
The good news is that I didn’t think poorly of my friend for his sentiments. He is not wrong or bad for having deep, unfulfilled longings to explore, discover, and participate in the richness and fullness of God’s good and amazing creation. In many ways, I have the same unfulfilled longings. I find myself thinking about how vast and diverse the earth is and how I long to see so much more of it than I will ever be able to in my lifetime.
All of this has led me to ask so many questions.
What if our longings are not wrong or misplaced?
What if God’s good creation isn’t a science experiment only to be discarded when the trial is over?
What if the Biblical narrative paints a very different picture of our future hope than the one many Christians have come to believe and understand?
What if God created all of this to be lived and experienced in it’s full glory…rather than lived in temporarily during which time it is marred and ruined by sin and death?
What if God’s redemptive plan…God’s victory and accomplishment in defeating sin and death through the resurrection of Jesus Christ… means something, not just for humanity, but for the entire created order that has suffered the consequences of sin and death?
Questions and possibilities such as these are exciting to consider and contemplate.
At one time, I used to believe heartily and steadfastly that the ultimate goal of the Christian was to join God in a disembodied, spiritual heaven for eternity when we die. That belief was coupled with notion that the current heaven and earth would be completely destroyed.
Through significant study and prayer, I no longer believe that the future hope of Christians is in a disembodied heaven or that God will completely destroy His good creation. In fact, the Biblical narrative paints such a convincing and compelling argument otherwise, I am surprised that I (we) have missed it for so long.
I am convinced that the majority of you who are reading this adamantly believe in a disembodied future existence in heaven that will last for eternity…and you very well may be wondering how anyone who claims to be a Christian can believe anything else different than that. I completely understand. I have been on that page for 98% of my life, because the pervasive understanding and instruction within our churches, in regards to our future hope, has been exactly what I described above. So why would anyone of us think otherwise, right?
My intention is not to wrestle you into submission or coerce you to change what you believe as much as I want to paint a different picture and offer, in my humble opinion, a more cohesive understanding of our future hope based upon an honest look at the Scriptures. I believe that understanding our future hope is of the utmost importance- for what we believe about our future influences and informs our identity and purpose presently.
I plan to cover three main areas in the following posts over the next month: misunderstandings that have led to our current belief about Heaven, a Biblical understanding of our future hope and the Age to Come, and how our belief about our future hope influences our identity and purpose, as Christians, in the present.
I am excited to see where this leads all of us and for the rich dialogue along the way!
Here is the next post in the series heaven: understanding the kingdom of heaven…