Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Will Heaven be Boring?

by Chris Mcals

Divine Bliss is Real

I was attending a Bible Study class one day, when an old gentleman, who was sitting in the front row, stood up and rather awkwardly voiced an interesting concern: "Father, he said to the Priest, will Heaven be boring?"
There was a sudden hushed murmur of renewed interest in the assembly while I remained silently immersed in my own memories. Not too long ago I had been literally swept off my feet by a living Joy that spontaneously arose from the depths of my soul.
I had no idea that this kind of Joy existed and in fact I'm convinced it doesn't, because what I experienced was Divine Bliss and not a human emotion. My marriage relationship being what it was, I had no reason to feel particularly happy at the external level of consciousness, and then there were the ever present financial worries and concerns. No, this Joy that arose spontaneously from the depths of my soul had nothing to do with external awareness, it wasn't in response to anything at all, and it was clear that it was impossible to bring it about at will, however jubilant one may feel. 

An Analogy

I didn't talk about my lofty experience to the group because I was afraid of trivializing it. In the end people can be told wonderful truths, but human nature is such that, unless we experience these things for ourselves, we are unable to fully appreciate their sacredness because of their subjective nature, and also, most importantly, because we are unable to grasp the spirit that gives life to the experience.
For example, you can look at a snapshot of yourself while you were having fun during a party, but you'll have to agree that looking at the picture is not the same as when you were actually there. The first was a living experience, the second was a shadow of the reality that was the experience, which is what we call a memory.
If we choose to adopt the snapshot analogy, then life on earth is like the picture, only instead of two dimensions, we have four, if we include time.
Life in Heaven, on the other hand, is like what was going on before the event was frozen in the time frame of a snapshot. Heaven's reality is living, ongoing and dynamic. Heaven is the experience of true Life, a life without the incumbrance of self-reflection (no memories or shadows), a life of true awareness and instantaneous consciousness. Everything in Heaven has a living consciousness, everything is harmony. What could be less boring than that!

Some people, and there may be quite a few, much like the old man at the Bible Study class wonder, OK, we are in Heaven, so what? What do we do in Heaven? We hang out? Believe it or not, there are people who believe that we are in Heaven now, but somehow we just forget... Of course for the orthodox Jews Heaven or Paradise is the Garden of Eden, so they look forward to that. For others Heaven is a place where there is no sin, no sickness, disease or death. We will have a glorified body and be forever young. Also in Heaven we can become whatever we want to be.

I think the most significant observation I heard on the subject of what will Heaven be like is that we are like fish in the water trying to imagine what it would be like to be on dry land.

Fortunately, we don't have to work with our imagination to try to understand some aspects on the reality of Heaven, because the Bible has left us plenty of references that we can look up to satisfy, in a very minuscule part, our quest for knowledge and understanding.

We can start with what we will not find in Heaven.

What's Not in Heaven

To get a fair idea of what Heaven will be like, we need to turn to Holy Scriptures, and a good way to start is by listing the things that, according to the Bible, will not be found in Heaven:
"There will be no time," Rev 21:27; Can you imagine yourself living outside of time, where each second can last a thousand years and a thousand years is the same as one second of earth time? The very idea is mind boggling. Time has no meaning in Heaven because there is no sun there. Eternity means the absence of time, or the Eternal Now.
Instead of receiving light from the sun, Heaven receives its light from the glory of God, who is infinitely brighter than the sun, and constantly nourishes us with Wisdom and Love. In His light we will constantly have direct access to God, because He is in instant communication with us. "There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. " Rev 22:5
"There will be no sin," Rev 21:27 allowed in Heaven. Sin is darkness and in Heaven there is only God's glorious light. A dark spot in a place where there is only brillant light would immediately stand out like a sore thumb. There is no place to hide in Heaven, because all our thoughts will be manifested as they will be our means of communicating with one another. Dark thoughts beget sin, and sin doesn't belong in Heaven. “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light." Luke 8:17.
What is sin? In Galatians 5:19-21 Paul says, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” These things are sins and they have no place in Heaven.
"No suffering or sorrow," Rev 21:4; Suffering and sorrow will be cast into the lake of fire along with Satan and his demons and all those who have rejected Christ and died in their sins. There is no room in Heaven for tears because the healing light of God will nurture us and make our hearts glow with joy and happiness. "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Rev 21:4.
"No curse,"Rev 22:2; Threats such as curses do not belong in Heaven. We will feel safe there, and loved, welcome and accepted. Fear is inexistent in Heaven because perfect love banishes all fear. We will finally be at peace. "And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him," Rev 22:3.
"No sun, moon, or sea," Rev 21:1, 23. The physical Earth as we know it now needs the sun, the moon and the sea for its seemingly endless cycles that aim to preserve the natural balance of life. In Heaven there is no need of these things, because God nourishes us with His Presence and in Him there is perfect balance.
"The old heaven and earth will have passed away, and Satan, his angels, and those who chose to follow him will have been cast from God’s presence," Rev 20:11-15. How would you like to spend eternity with Someone that you have despised and rejected all your life, and now you are in His magnificent palace where He alone reigns with mighty power?
How would you like to be forever worshipping the very Person that you derided and denied, and associating only with those that you bitterly mocked because they adore the King of Kings? Hell is where the unbeliever wants to be, apart from God, and so, "They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might." 2 Thessalonians 1:9.

What the Bible says About Heaven

Now lets look at some of the things that, according to Holy Scriptures, we can expect to find in Heaven.
"There will be the singing of new songs," Rev 5:9; 14:3. Some NDErs come back to tell us that in Heaven they heard marvelous, powerful melodies and music the likes of which does not exist here on earth. The fact that these songs are always new rests on the reality that God is forever new, "Behold, I make all things new." Rev. 21:5.
The authors of the Bible who have attempted to describe the beauties of Heaven have strived to depict the existence of a dimension that is well beyond the grasp of the human mind and of the human ability to describe:
Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man; all that God has prepared for those who love Him” 1 Corinthians 2:9.
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third Heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.
Paul in 1 Corinthians also says that we will see God "face to face" and "now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known." In essence, this verse is telling us that we will have access to the full knowledge of God, even as He intimately knows each one of us.
Whether this process will be instantaneous or we will be graduating from mansion to mansion through a process of ongoing learning it's not clear, but we know that the ultimate goal is to know our Creator intimately, through love.
It goes without saying that when St. Paul speaks of Heaven he's referring to the state of eternal bliss and everlasting Grace, to which all true Christians aspire. This state of everlasting Grace is described in the book of Revelation. "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband" Rev 21:2.

Where is Heaven?

When Jesus speaks of going back to His Father, where He will “prepare a place” for us in John 14:1-3, we naturally assume that He is talking about going to Heaven and that “going to Heaven” means going to some far away place beyond the stars.
It may well be that Heaven is as much beyond the stars as it is everywhere around us and beyond the created Universe, since Heaven is a spiritual realm that is not bound by time and space. It has been said that Heaven is where God is, and that God can be likened to a sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.
Jesus said that in His Father's house there are many mansions, and each mansion is prepared specifically for the individual that is going to occupy it. "In my Father's house there are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." John 14:2.
We must not think in terms of space, because in the spiritual realm space does not exist. We only need space here on earth because we have physical bodies that occupy a physical space. The birds of the air need wings in order to soar through space, but Angelic Beings don't need wings to soar through space, because they don't have a physical body, therefore they are not subject to the contraints of the laws of gravity. The imagery of angels with feathery wings on their back is an artistic licence that originated in the Dark Ages. Since the spiritual body doesn't occupy any physical space, and needs no wings to move about at will, Jesus was talking about the Heavenly Mansions in the spiritual sense. 
Some mansions will be earth-like but not bound by the laws of physics, such as gravity, time and space for example. Perhaps our beloved pets will also be there and they will be able to intelligently communicate with us. And why not? In the Garden of Eden we know that there were animals keeping Adam company before Eve was created, and we know that Adam named each of the animals. Catholics call this type of glorified Earth "Limbo." "The LORD God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one." Genesis 2:19.
In addition to that, there might also be an even more spiritual and glorified Earth superimposed to the Garden of Eden, or apart from it as if in "another mansion," of the same nature as the glorified body of the resurrected Christ. 
If you recall, after His Resurrection and before His Ascension, Jesus had a tangible body, a body that bore the wounds of His Crucifixion, the same wounds that the Apostle Thomas could touch and feel with his own hands.
Jesus could also eat: "While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.'
When He had said this, He showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, He asked them, 'Do you have anything here to eat?' They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate it in their presence." Luke 24:36-43.
Jesus didn't eat because He liked to eat, as I've heard some people say. That's a superficial and rather silly notion. You may remember that before His death and Resurrection, Jesus opted against eating, such as when He fasted in the desert for forty days and forty nights for example, and also when He told his disciples, who insisted that He should eat, "I have food of which you know nothing. My food is to do the Will of the Father who sent Me, and to accomplish His work." John 4:34.
Jesus was not particularly fond of eating or drinking. He ate and drank what was presented to Him, or what He could find along the way when he was traveling: figs, corn, maybe dates.
Besides, in Middle Eastern culture eating what your host offered was the polite thing to do when you visited someone's house. People would have taken offense if Jesus had refused to eat what was spread out before Him. It's still the same today!
Jesus ate not because He was hungry. He ate only to put the Apostles at ease, because they were convinced that they had seen a ghost, and He wanted to reassure them that He had a real body.
Although the resurrected Jesus had a real, physical body, He could appear and disappear through walls and locked doors, because His body was no longer subjected to the laws of physics, and finally He ascended into Heaven (disappeared from our sight) with His glorified human body. This is why most Christians believe in the resurrection of the body. The new earth will be of the same nature as Jesus' glorified body. However this is not the Paradise that Jesus promised the repentant man that had been crucified on His side.
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." Rev 21:1. So this glorified earth will have no sea and everything in it will be fresh and new. A new beginning, a fresh start in a world of plenty for all its inhabitants.
"And He showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." Rev 22:1-2.

So, Will Heaven Be Boring? 

Heaven will far exceed all our expectations.  According to the Bible, there will be streets of gold, and the company of the Saints, who are people we can always trust, people who are full of wisdom, knowledge and love for God and for us; there will be rivers with water that scintillates as crystal and buildings made of precious stones, glorious light, musical harmony, untold beauty everywhere, enhanced colors, profound peace, jubilant love, total security and blissful joy and, most of all there will be the Living Presence of God the Father and of His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ in which we will take our delight through the infusion of the Holy Spirit. The Lord God Himself will light up the Heavens with His splendor.
Our eyes and our hearts will finally open to God's goodness, and we will want to glory in Him and shout His praises; we will see His tremendous Power and we will want to worship Him; we will feel in our hearts the Fire of His Divine Love, and we will want to cling to Him with all our being; we will judge with Him and we will reign with Him; we will be transformed into beings of light and we will enjoy ecstatic Divine Bliss in our hearts that will never depart from us.
Heaven will also be a place where we will be reunited with our loved ones in the Lord, from whom we were separated by death. "Those who have died in Christ are merely asleep, and they will not be victims of the “second death.” Rev 20:6. I'm convinced that we will also be reunited with some of our beloved pets, or at least we might be able to visit them in their own pet heaven, and maybe we will finally be able to communicate with them, telepathically.
So will Heaven be boring? No! In Heaven "boredom" does not exist. If you go to Heaven and get bored, it might just be because you are in the wrong place, since the feeling of boredom doesn't belong in Heaven.

Heaven Is For Real

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