Scripture is interestingly vague regarding what “being in heaven” will specifically entail. A cursory reading of the salient passages paints a brilliantly poetic (i.e. somewhat ambiguous, inexplicable, and metaphorical) picture. We will live for eternity in a city built by God’s own hand where sin, pain, and darkness are absent (Rev 22:1-5, Rev 21:4, I Cor 2:8-9) . Our bodies will be changed into a sinless replication of our current selves (Phil 3:20-21). We will be forever in the presence of holy Trinity, worshiping and praising them for all time (Rev 5:9-13).
Is it just me, or do you ever catch yourself contemplating how everyday life in heaven will be sublimely superior to everyday life here on earth? I suppose I should be imagining the wonder of being in God’s company rather than the wonder of mundanity in heaven, but my heart and mind are frequently drawn to these more prosaic things. I’m not sure how spiritual that makes me : ). Nevertheless, over the last few days especially, I have been thinking about all the ways that I myself will be different. When God recreates my body and mind and it is finally free from the influence of sin and this broken world, I imagine …
- I will never get nervous walking into a room of strangers.
- I will always know the right thing to say …no more awkward silences.
- I will never wonder what other people are thinking of me (or even worry what I am thinking of me! [1 Cor 4:3–4]).
- I will never be lonely (faith will finally be sight–forever [2 Cor 5:7–8]).
- I will never wish that I could start my day over with more sleep or more caffeine.
- I will always be happy. Nothing negative will overshadow my mind.
- I will never be frustrated about the cleanliness of my home (you know, the one Jesus is building for me! [John 14:2-3]).
- I will never regret anything that I think, say or do (all my thinking, saying, doing, will flow from love).
- I will always be patient (and eternity is a very long time : ).
- I will always do everything with the right motivation.
That final truth has been especially comforting to me. Can you imagine a time and place where you can simply live. Where you won’t do a double-take to evaluate the motivations of your heart when loving and serving God? God will ask us to do something for him, and we will joyful obey—without any guilt (because “I only did it so that people would see that I love God”), pride (because “it’s amazing how much I can get done on my own”), fear (because “if I don’t do this I may never get asked to do anything again”), resentment (because “can’t they see how busy I already am”), martyrdom (because “I just have to do everything around here…”), sense of obligation (because “well, Christ did die for me, how could I say no to this?”) or superiority (because “it makes total sense that I would be asked to do this!”). None of those heart responses will even exist in heaven! I will never sit and parse my own thoughts or ask God to show me my driving motivation (Ps 139: 23). I will never have to instruct my sinful heart with the truth in order to combat sin (Eph 6:13). I will never get tangled (confused, frustrated) in combating desires that make it difficult to live for the glory of God. I will be free of all that! Whoo-Hoo!
And, even as I write, how encouraging these thoughts are! What a blessed and wonderful hope they give! My earthly heart is frequently engaged in struggle. My new nature (created in me and fortified by the Holy Spirit through the truth of scripture) and my old nature (which came with the package and has this present broken world with its promises and pleasures to support it) will continue in conflict. And lets be honest, there are days when I really, really wish I could just not sin. On those days I remind myself of a truth; my confident expectation, my sincere hope, that when I go to meet Jesus my old nature will lose its grip on me and I will leave it behind forever (Phil 1:6).
Often I reduce my focus of heaven down to a few summarized points. No sin. No pain. Beautiful city. Being with God. And those are wonderful points. But maybe take some time to name some specific things that will change in you. Take hope in the promise of that change, and then live today with that hope as your comfort and confidence.
(I’d love to hear some of the things you look forward to! : )