Summary: A look at heaven and how to get there.
"I don’t think that there can be any future for heaven or hell." Did you hear me, "I don’t think that there can be any future for heaven or hell" at least that’s what Gordon Kaufman a theologian from Harvard Divinity School believes. It would appear that mainstream Christianity has lost sight of eternal life. This is the 1990’s where liberal Christianity has embraced a God without an afterlife, and the new age movement with their belief in reincarnation has captured an afterlife without a god. But what about it? Is heaven just some quaint pie in the sky myth?
In recent years, as a knowledge of the death process has advanced through research, concern about heaven has receded. Part of that is our affluent society. It is slaves not freemen, the hungry not the well fed who find Heaven an appealing prospect. But does the fact that people don’t believe in heaven make it cease to exist? Because people could not comprehend an Australia 300 years ago did that mean there was no Australia. Just because as Australians you can’t comprehend what 50 below zero is like doesn’t change that fact that was the wind chill factor in eastern Canada last week. Just because the afterlife is not preached like it used to be doesn’t change it’s reality.
The problem exists in the fact that there’s nobody here who has seen heaven. And so when we ask what will heaven be like everyone has a different point of view. Rev. Sam Geli, a Chaplain at the Santa Monica Hospital medical centre says that for many paediatric cancer patients, heaven "is a place where they will no longer have to listen to Mom and Dad cry and fight, a place where they won’t have to come to the hospital for chemotherapy treatments." I would suspect that for the believer in Somalia it is a place where there is no hunger, for the believer in Croatia it is a place with no war, and for the old saint who is tired of fighting for life that it is a place of rest.
1) Heaven will be different then earth. We often seek to define and describe new things in old and familiar terms that is why north American Indians called the steam train the iron horse, why the first car was called a horseless carriage. Twenty years ago if somebody sat you down in front of a personal computer and asked you what it was how would you have described it? As a television with a typewriter plugged into a bread box. Heaven is the eternal dwelling place of God, it is self produced and uncreated. In the beginning the Bible says God created the heavens and the earth. But that is not the dwelling place of God that Moses is writing about, that’s the skies, the atmosphere and the stratosphere and all the other spheres. And while the Bible contains descriptions of streets of Gold and gates of pearl, they are an attempt by finite man to describe something infinite. Try to get you average grade three to explain calculus and you get an idea of the difficulty of the chore of defining heaven. We live in a world governed by the second law of thermo dynamics which says that everything moves toward disorder. Our world and everything in our world ages and deteriorates. That is why as you get older you need glasses, a hearing aid, a cane. Heaven on the other hand is as perfect as it has always been. People wouldn’t age, so if they won’t age what age will they be stuck at, the age they died? That may be alright for Elaine MacKenzie who died when she was 19 but what about Percy Lyons who died when he was 81? No, no, no pastor, you see everyone will be a perfect age. What is a perfect age, I kind of liked 15, but maybe it will be 8.
If you had the opportunity to explain our world to a pre-born child still in the womb how would you do it? Let’s get into the picture, you are one of a pair of twins, and you have been given this special knowledge of what’s outside, don’t ask how you got that knowledge just trust me. And as the holder of that knowledge you need to convince your womb mate that the outside world is a much better and desirable place to exist then inside the womb. You Ok. You still with me. I am sure that he would object that the idea of an earth outside the womb as being ridiculous, after all the womb is the only earth that he knows.
How would you explain that there would come a day that he would live in a greatly expanded environment and breathe air. Hah he would be even more sceptical. Air, the pre-born child lives in and breathes water. How could he imagine being able to live in air. To the pre born child the transition to this world would seem an impossibility. It would take birth to prove the earths existence to the pre-born child. A little pain, a big shove, a gasp of air and, and the whole wide world. Green grass, blue skies, laps, lakes, the ocean, horses, (Can you imagine explaining a horse to a foetus?), rainbows, walking, running, surfing. With enough room that you don’t have to shove and an entire universe beside.