What Will Heaven Be Like?

What Will Heaven Be Like?

Thirty-five frequently asked questions about eternity.
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I would like to attempt the impossible: to answer the 35 most frequently asked questions about Heaven. Obviously, it would take more than an article, more than a lifetime, and more than human wisdom to answer any one of these questions adequately. But "fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

More seriously, sometimes a taste can whet the appetite for more complete consumption later on, and perhaps these samples will at least suggest ways to think about the subject.

1. How do we know anything about Heaven, anyway?

If we had no "inside information," we could only speculate. Fortunately, we have some solid data to build on: divine revelation. I think God wants us to use our reason and also our imagination (for why should we neglect any God-given faculty) to explore the treasure of tantalizing hints in Scripture. To be indifferent to it is to be like the unprofitable servant who hid his master's talent in the ground.

In having this data, we are in a position very different from that of the unbeliever (or rather, the difference lies in our believing the data, for the whole human race has it; it is public). We are like the sighted compared to the blind, who can only speculate about things visible. We can do more than speculate about things invisible.

"What do you know about Heaven, anyway? Have you ever been there?" We can answer this challenge: "No, but I have a very good Friend who has. He came here and told us about it and showed it to us. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

2. Why won't we be bored in Heaven?

I suspect this question subconsciously bothers most of us more than we like to admit. I can remember having something of a crisis of faith as a child: I thought I didn't want to go to Heaven since the popular pictures of it seemed pretty boring to me.

Freud, who occasionally comes up with nuggets of wisdom sandwiched between mountains of nonsense, says that everyone needs two things to make life worth living: love and work. The two are really one, for love is a work and work is a love. Love is a work, for it is something you do, not something you just feel or fall into. And work must be a love, for if not, it is threatening and boring. What love-work will we do in Heaven, then?

We will complete the very love-works we are meant to do on Earth. There are only six things that never get boring on Earth, six things that never come to an end: knowing and loving yourself, your neighbor, and God. Since persons are subjects and not objects, they are not exhaustible; they are like magic cows that give fresh milk forever.

The two great commandments that are our job description for life, in both this world and the next, express this plan: We must love God wholly and we must love our neighbor as ourself. And in order to love we must know, get to know, as endlessly as we love endlessly. This never gets boring, even on Earth: getting to know and love more and more someone we already know and love. It is our clue and our preparation for our eternal destiny of infinite fascination.

3. Will we recognize our loved ones in Heaven?

George Macdonald answers this question with a counter question: "Will we be greater fools there than here?" Of course we will know our loved ones. This is a divinely designed, essential part of our joy. We are not designed to be solitary mystics, lovers of God alone, but to be, like God himself, lovers of men and women as well.

Just as Jesus on Earth loved each person differently and specially—he did not love John as he loved Peter, because John was not Peter—so we are designed to love people specially. There is no reason why this specialness should be removed, rather than added to, in eternity. Our family and special friends will always be our family and special friends. In this life a child begins to learn to love by loving mother, then father, then siblings, then pets. The concentric circles of love are then gradually expanded, but the beginning lessons are never abandoned. There is no reason to think God rips up this plan after death.

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