Heaven—myth and reality

Read Romans 8:18-21

18-21 In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God’s purpose it has been so limited—yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God! (JBP)

It is so sad that ‘heaven’ has become a bit of a joke, has been equated to the popular mythology of pearly gates and disembodied winged creatures playing harps on puffy clouds. It is seen as a reward for being good on earth and as a vague sort of hope that those who die somehow are at rest and peace.

The biblical reality is much deeper and richer than this. Our passage today reminds us that when human beings become who they were made to be, the created world becomes what it was made to be. When humans went wrong, they dragged the created world down with them. And just as human beings who belong to God won’t just vanish into nothingness, neither will our world.

We may legitimately see heaven as very much this world renovated. This world with all the wrong and passing removed and all the good indescribably enhanced. The bad things will have gone and what is good in this life will be seen as a mere foretaste of the deeper pleasures of heaven.

While we dare not see heaven as merely an extension of life on earth (one big party with our mates), we dare not see it as some purely ‘spiritual’ reality either. We have a future in heaven, and our created world has a future—perhaps as that heaven.

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