Looking Forward to a Heaven We Can Imagine

God commands us in his Word to set our minds in Heaven where Christ is

“Our belief that Heaven will be boring betrays a heresy—that God himself is boring. There’s no greater nonsense. Our desire for pleasure and the experience of joy come directly from God’s hand. He made our taste buds, adrenaline, and the nerve endings that convey pleasure to our brains. Likewise, our imaginations and capacity for joy were made by the God whom some imagine is boring.

 

Christians faced with death often feel they’re leaving the party before it’s over, going home early. They’re disappointed, thinking of all the people and things they’ll miss when they leave.

But for God’s children the real party awaits—think of the Father making merry and celebrating with a feast for the prodigal son who’s come home (Luke 15). The celebration is already underway at our true home, where we’ve not yet lived—and that’s precisely where death will take us. As others will welcome us to Heaven’s party, so we’ll one day welcome those who arrive later.

God commands us in his Word to set our minds in Heaven where Christ is (Colossians 3:1). We focus on an actual place where the eternally incarnate, resurrected Christ lives. We’re commanded to be “looking forward to the new Heavens and New Earth where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13)—the resurrected cosmos, our future and eternal home.

Paul says, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). If we don’t understand this future glory of Heaven that awaits us, we won’t see our present sufferings shrink in comparison to its greatness.

What God made us to desire is exactly what he promises to those who follow Jesus Christ: a resurrected life in a resurrected body, with the resurrected Christ on a resurrected earth. Our desires correspond precisely to God’s plans. It’s not that we want something, so we engage in wishful thinking. It’s the opposite—we want real human lives as real embodied people because God has wired us that way, and has always planned for it. 

Will Heaven ever be boring?

We will be more likely to think of Heaven as boring if we think of it as a disembodied state. But the ultimate Heaven where we’ll live forever is defined by resurrection, and resurrection is by definition embodied. Jesus spoke of the coming “renewal of all things” (Matthew 19:27-28). Peter preached of “the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets” (Acts 3:21). For resurrected people in a renewed universe, boredom will be unthinkable.

Our belief that Heaven will be boring betrays a heresy—that God himself is boring. There’s no greater nonsense. Our desire for pleasure and the experience of joy come directly from God’s hand. He made our taste buds, adrenaline, and the nerve endings that convey pleasure to our brains. Likewise, our imaginations and capacity for joy were made by the God whom some imagine is boring. Are we so arrogant as to imagine that human beings came up with the idea of having fun?

“Won’t it be boring to be good all the time?” This assumes sin is exciting and righteousness is boring, which is one of the Devil’s most strategic lies. Sin doesn’t bring fulfillment, it robs us of it. When there’s beauty, when we see God as he truly is—an endless reservoir of fascination—boredom becomes impossible.

God delegates rule of his creation to us, and we’ll reign with him over his new creation. We’ll have things to do, places to go, people to see. Heaven is guaranteed to be a thrilling adventure because Jesus is a thrilling person—the source of all great adventures, including those awaiting us in the new universe.

Will we eat and drink in Heaven?

Words describing eating, meals, and food appear more than a thousand times in Scripture, with the English translation “feast” occurring 187 times. Feasting involves celebration and fun; it’s profoundly relational. Great conversation, storytelling, relationship-building, and laughter happen during mealtimes. Feasts, including Passover, were spiritual gatherings that drew attention to God, his greatness, and his redemption.

People who love each other love eating together. Jesus said to his disciples, “I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” (Luke 22:29-30). He promised, “Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 8:11). The finest foods and drinks, according to Isaiah 25:6, will be prepared for us by God himself.

Jesus knew his words would be attractive to all who heard them. How can it be trivial or unspiritual to anticipate such things? Don’t you think he wants us to look forward to eating at his table?

In my book Heaven I coined the term Christoplatonism. It’s reflected by a Christian man in our church, who told me after I preached on the resurrected life, “This idea of having bodies and eating food and being in an earthly place . . . it just sounds so unspiritual.” If we believe that bodies and the earth and material things are unspiritual, then we’ll inevitably reject biblical revelation about our bodily resurrection or the physical characteristics of the New Earth. But the idea that physicality is inherently unspiritual is not biblical. As C. S. Lewis said of God, “He likes matter. He invented it.”[1]

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