“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Rev 21:1-3 ESV)
Have you ever heard the phrase, “That person is so heavenly-minded that he is no earthly good?” There may be some truth to this slogan, for some Christians have the mentality that since heaven is our true home, this present life doesn’t matter all that much. However, at its root, the Bible teaches us the exact opposite of this phrase. This morning, let’s take time to think about a subject glorious beyond imagination. Let’s think about heaven.
Since heaven is where we will spend eternity with the triune God and since our inheritance is God himself in heaven (Eph 1:13-14), it is strange that so few of us spend much time thinking about heaven (I’m pointing the finger at me, here!). Why is this? There are many reasons, but the most likely explanation is that we enjoy lives of ease here in this life, comparatively speaking. We all have our trials and difficulties, which I do not want to minimize in any way, but very few of us reading this will ever wonder whether we will have enough to eat today, or whether we will have reasonably clean water to drink. Those two facts alone—easy access to food and water—put us in about the top 10% of the world’s population today. Now, citing that statistic is not meant to put you on a guilt trip. It is only to draw attention to the fact that, for most of us, vacations, iPhones, hundreds of channels, sporting events, and the myriad other ways we entertain ourselves (none of which are bad, properly used) makes heaven seem distant, if not unreal. We experience so many good things in this life that it dulls our yearning for the life to come. Or, stated in other terms, sure, we want to go heaven, but we want to see Hawaii before we go.
What can we do to awaken our longing for heaven? There are a few things that come to mind. First, take note of what the Bible says about heaven. It describes heaven as a place of physical delight (Is 25:6-9), a place where sorrow is removed and joy inexpressible fills all who dwell there (Rev 21:4), and a place where we see God (1 John 3:2). It is a place of beauty beyond imagination (Ez 1:4-28; Rev 4:1-8). It is the place where only those redeemed by the blood of Jesus dwell (Eph 1:3-14; Rev 20:15). It is the inheritance of the believer, the goal of our lives (Rom 8:18), and the highest happiness we will ever know. A dear friend of mine summed up heaven well when he said, “Heaven will not be a low calorie affair.” Pure delight, body and soul, is what awaits us in heaven. It will be joy unspeakable and full of glory, as we glorify God and enjoy him forever!
Given this sampling of the Bible’s teaching on heaven, here are a few things it means for Monday morning. First, having an eternal perspective puts the present in focus. What trials do you face this week? What is stressing you out? What seems like an immovable obstacle at work, home, or in your relationships? Remember that this world is not all there is. If you’re a Christian, what’s coming is so incomparably better to what we experience now. Therefore, we can begin to not just endure the everyday, but thrive in the midst of it. Whatever you’re facing, Christian brother, remember that heaven has been secured for you by Jesus! The best is yet to come.
Second, meditating on heaven breaks the spell idols have on our hearts. Maybe you have given in yet again to the temptation that pornography seems to present relentlessly to you. Yet again, you’ve looked at images and you’re empty and unfulfilled. What’s happening here? Sexual pleasure has become an idol, a functional God. But idols never satisfy us. That’s why porn always leaves men burned out and empty. Jesus calls us to look at the pleasures that are ours already in him (Ps 16:11) and the pleasures coming to us in heaven. When those grip us, idols lose their grip. Ask Jesus to make himself more beautiful and believable than your favorite idol.
In closing, let me retool our opening phrase: May God make us so heavenly-minded that we are the most earthly good! Let us look forward to heaven not just because of the delight it promises us, but, supremely, because of who is there: the triune God who gives us himself as our portion and inheritance.
© First Presbyterian Church