The Way I See It #230

This morning I stopped at my favorite place - Starbucks. As I was sipping my vente Anniversary blend, I noticed the submitted "way I see it" blurb on the side of the cup. This one came from Joel Stein who is a columnist for the LA Times:

Heaven is totally overrated. It seems boring. Clouds, listening to people play the harp. It should be somewhere you can't wait to go, like a luxury hotel. Maybe blue skies and soft music were enough to keep people in line in the 17th century, but Heaven has to step it up a bit. They're basically getting by because they only have to be better than Hell.

There are a couple of issues I have in reading this blurb. First, Mr Stein implies that heaven has need of new marketing. That the heaven PR machine has rested on it's laurels for a couple of centuries., and needs to merely step it up a bit. Also, Mr Stein seems to be placated quite easily. A luxury hotel? Like CS Lewis says, "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." If heaven were only about someplace nice to go, than it would not be heaven. Last, about heaven "getting by", it seems Mr Stein believes that Peter and Judas as in competition with one another trying to sell the more tickets for their respective eternal residences and that hell has just received some bad consumer recommendations.

In reading both John Eldrege and Randy Alcorn, I agree that Christians are, in part, to blame for the misconception that in heaven we will be sitting on a cloud with a harp singing forever. We will not, as Mr Eldrege says, be going to the eternal church service in the sky. Mr Alcorn believes that Christians are to blame for the misconceptions of heaven because we have failed to explore the extraordinary images of heaven presented in Scripture.

While I obviously do not know exactly what heaven will be like, I think we get a good picture from Jesus. Jesus came to make all things new (not change things, but restore then to their created order - an order in which we worked, had relationships and were surrounded by beauty, both created and God). Jesus also came to give us life as it was meant to be, so we could live to the full. There is not one person I know that would consider a full life sitting on a cloud, playing a harp, endlessly singing. Heaven is somewhere I can't wait to go - because of a number of reasons, but mainly,
  • because Jesus will be there
  • because evil and suffering will be no more
  • because I will receive a new body
  • because Jesus will be there
I encourage you to do a couple of things. First, log onto and write a comment about Mr Stein's contribution. Second, if you wish to read more about heaven, in addition to Scripture, check out a good biblical overview in Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven. Mr Alcorn's website, Eternal Perspectives, is also a good informative site. Another place to go is the writings of John Eldrege, and his Ransomed Heart podcast.

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