Before you keep scrolling and totally dismiss the following because you are not prepared to mentally handle the theological ravings of a 23 year old musing about the afterlife, you should know this post is more about spiritual practice and less about knowledge or competing ideas.
In my brief life and short study of Church History I have noticed a trend which became very popular in America during the 1920’s. It was a shift in the way believers thought, wrote and spoke about Heaven. Heaven became the goal of faith motivated by a fear of present realities. The promise of Christian joy became about escaping the radical ideas of culture, being raptured from the grueling philosophies and practices of evolution, sexuality, violence and substance abuse so fixated on by many in public and private squares. This desire to escape came from seeing the evil of the world opposed to the rule of life created by Jesus. The awareness of the vast disparity in these ideals made escaping the easiest response.
Let me be blunt for a second, this understanding of Heaven not only robs the Church of experiencing the fullness of being beloved by the Father but removes the opportunity for the World to be changed by those who know they are the beloved of the Father.
While I will not deny the reality of Heaven and the beauty of looking forward to spending eternity in perfection and paradise with Jesus. He did not become the incarnate Son of God to simply give us the hope of this future reality, the incarnation was not about surrendering creation it was an act of reclaiming creation. Instead of spending our days speculating about what Heaven will look like when we get there, maybe we need to start building Heaven on Earth. Hear this truth, we know what Heaven is like because we know the King who sits on the throne. His commision is not exclusively to come home, it is a charge to make everything around you home until he returns. Heaven is a reality of peace, life, and love we can bring to our lost neighbors, coworkers, family and friends.
The mind blowing reality of this truth impacts the way we see the issues of this world. It means when we see a man profiled and attacked because of the color of his skin we demand justice and seek to change the culture to promote the value of humanity regardless of skin color. It means when we see a mother unable to feed her family we invite her to our table. It means not waiting for problems to come to us but getting off the comfortable pew at our beautiful Church and sitting with the hurting, angry, confused and broken all around us. Heaven is far too beautiful for us to simply wait until we can be there, everything we know about Heaven should drive us to establish it here on Earth as we await the return of our beloved.
Remember that in Christ we are already dead and taking up our cross daily to remind our forgetful minds is essential to living for the establishment of Heaven. We were not given the gift of grace to simply pass the time till we can trade in our get out of Earth free card. Today ask yourself not where you will go when you die but how the world behind you will look when you leave.
Grace and Peace,