Thursday, May 26, 2011

Longing for Heaven

...We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:8)
How often do you think about heaven? Is the concept of “heaven” purely theological to you, or is it real? It is difficult for mortals to comprehend immortality, but God has indeed promised us an eternal home, and Christ confirmed this when He said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)

Even those who acknowledge the existence of heaven may fail to live in hopeful expectation of eternity. Ironically, we are most prone to this spiritual dullness when we are experiencing great joy and happiness here on earth - which is not our true home. Of course, God is the Giver of all good gifts, and we should accept His blessings with thanksgiving, but the moment we get lost in the joys of this life - and fail to give Him glory - we are prone to losing sight of eternity.

The opposite is also true: earthly trials heighten our awareness of, and longing for, heaven.
For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed [see vs. 2], so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Cor. 5:4)
Notice Paul’s response to his earthly burdens. He does not retreat into self-pity and introspection, but instead lifts his eyes to heaven. If we’re not careful though, the “cares of this world” may choke our awareness of eternity.

Another temptation, in light of the recent episode with Harold Camping and his rapture predictions, is for us to actually make light of eternity as we criticize false prophets like Camping. I understand the sentiment behind many of the “rapture jokes” that were flying around in the aftermath of the non-rapture, but we must be careful not to take it too far, responding in such a way as to almost say “there will be no rapture, no heaven, and no eternity.”

The book of Revelation reveals a glorious picture of heaven - one we would do well to remember, and perhaps memorize.
“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. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:3-4)
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed... (Rev. 21:10-12)
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. (Rev. 21:22-25)
“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Rev. 22:7)
Let us then echo Paul and say, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” (2 Cor. 5:9)

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