Copyright Creationswap. Image by Michael Andrews of Cut Bank, MT, and Jason Rutel.
I have always hated discussing Revelations with my Christian friends.
I’ve been in the ‘as long as I get to heaven I don’t care about the details’ camp for years. Going into any more detail always raised questions and arguments and unpleasantness. But the past three weeks of Bible study have changed all that.
After going through Craig Groeschel’s ‘The End’ series, our group of twenty-somethings asked a bucket load of questions about what we do in heaven, how the end times will work, what happens when we die and more. We got honest answers from older members of our church, and the discussion has shifted my view on Revelations. It’s no longer weird and unfathomable—it’s a mind-blowing reinforcement of how much God loves us.
Three of the main points I took away from the study were that:
1. In heaven we will be in relationship with God;
2. We will glorify God;
3. We will have responsibilities or even ‘rule’; and,
4. Our actions on earth affect stuff in heaven (I think).
Now don’t ask me anything too specific about these points, because I don’t know exactly how it will work. But for me, these points are a big departure from most people’s childhood heavenly imaginings of an eternal church choir.
Let’s start with the first point; eternal relationship with God. I found this one hard to picture, but Craig Groeschel said something that helped. He said to picture your favourite moments in life. For me, I think of our Sunday afternoon family lunches at my uncles’ houses. I spent so many hours as a teenager eating BBQ chicken and chips at their homes, laughing at the family banter and listening to story after story.
Now, take that favourite moment, multiply it by a million and you’re still nowhere near to how good heaven will be.
My puny brain cannot comprehend an eternity of relationship—if I’m honest, it sounds boring. But an eternity of Sunday lunches with my family and God? Now you’re talking!
For the second point—glorifying God—I picture a big concert. But I wonder if glorifying God isn’t just limited to singing? What if it’s also tied in with point three; heavenly responsibilities?
I have no idea if I’m way off base here, but when the Bible says we will ‘rule’, I picture a mix of Narnia and heavenly jobs. And if there’s jobs, that means there could be a possibility that I’ll be a heavenly writer.
When I write, it feels like I’ve tapped into some trickle of a heavenly drug that says, ‘This is what you were born to do’. Even though I get plagued by insecurities about it all the time, I still know these fingers were made to type. So the image of heaven as the ultimate realisation of writing for God’s glory is a super exciting thought.
And this now leads me to point number 4—what we do on earth affects what responsibilities we are given in heaven.
Now, this is not something I’m certain about. But our study this week suggested it was a possibility. And I like the thought, because life on earth often feels so insignificant. I work so hard on my writing, but there’s a chance no one will ever see it. And even if they do, will it impact them enough to be worth the pain of writing it? And just the effort of life in general; grocery shopping, going to work, ugh—what’s the point?
But this would indicate that the Christian life isn’t just the sinner’s prayer, and then a long wait for heaven. What we do now counts; it has meaning and purpose. My attitude matters and has flow-on effects, whether I’m grocery shopping, working, writing or doing whatever. I like to think that our lives have more significance than just the here and now.
But more important than any of my self-focused dreams of a fun heaven is the underlying theme beneath these four points; God loves us A LOT.
He’s not some superhero who rescues people and then disappears from their lives. He’s going to an amazing amount of effort to prepare a home for us to live with Him. It blows my mind that He not only agreed to spend eternity with us tiny little people, but He’s looking forward to it! The feeling I get from Revelations is that He can’t wait!
Wow. Just wow. You’re awesome, God.