There are a lot of views of Heaven, even secular ideas of what an afterlife is like.
What Dreams May Come is an aesthetically beautiful and though provoking movie that posits that Heaven is uniquely personal to each person. Watch this clip and discuss what you think (and if you have time, I’d thoroughly suggest watching the whole movie. It’s a great theological think piece!).
Robin Williams’ character has been holding on in death (like the idea of a ghost who wasn’t ready to die). He’s been lingering around his wife, longing to be with her again, but eventually he realises that he can’t be with her. When he finally lets go he wakes up in “his heaven;” a realised vision of his favorite painting. OH, and his old dog happens to be there too!
Having discussed the idea of heaven as presented in the video clip, discuss your views of Heaven. What does it look like? Is it a physical place? Who’s there? What do we do there?
Vinnie spoke to us about Heaven last night. He asserted that Heaven is much more than a spiritual plane of existence where God and all the angels and saints sit around for all of eternity, surrounded by gold and light, singing endless hymns, and all the other cliche images of Heaven we have.
Heaven is a state of being, really. Heaven is where we dwell with God and God dwells with humanity in perfect harmony once again and forever and ever.
I have often said to people that if going to Heaven is your greatest motivator for being a Christian than you’re in this for the wrong reason. What I mean by that is that being a follower of Jesus means something in the now! Heaven is an end goal, perhaps, yes, but it’s not THE reason for following Jesus. Kingdom living starts the moment you submit to Christ. Eternal live begins now!
If we skate through life thinking we don’t have to actually live our lives like Christ because we have salvation and our ticket’s to heaven are punched, then we are grossly abusing the grace of God and the calling of what it means to be A.) a Christian and B.) made in the image of God!
Heaven shouldn’t be our motivator; this serene and perfect life among the clouds shouldn’t be our motivator to love God.
GOD SHOULD BE OUR MOTIVATOR TO LOVE GOD! JESUS SHOULD BE THE REASON WE FOLLOW JESUS!
Christ gave us a glimpse at what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like and then invites us to partake in that glory. But he never says or insinuates that partaking in Heaven is something that we must wait for, it’s something that we are invited to taste now!
God is with us. The Holy Spirit dwells within you and, while there is a component of this spiritual reconciliation that is still not complete, Heaven and eternal life begins now.
We see glimpses of Heaven when we act as God’s agents in the world. When we show love to someone in need we see a bit of Heaven. When we stand up against injustice we see a bit of Heaven. When relationships are restored we see a bit of Heaven. When someone is healed we see a bit of heaven. When someone comes to Christ we see a bit of heaven.
Heaven is a spiritual place where God dwells, yes, but what does that say when we also say that God dwells in us??? I like to think that Heaven is all around us and, though we await its full consummation, we see the Kingdom breaking through all the time. We participate in the consummation of the Kingdom when we allow God to use us, and, like Vinnie said, that’s Heaven in the here and now; God and humanity in harmony with one another.