Afraid of Heaven

We do not yearn to be near God because we do not find sin utterly repugnant or goodness rapturously attractive.

Every human person is in a process of becoming a noble being—noble beyond imagination—or else, alas, a vile being, evil beyond redemption—"a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare." So says C. S. Lewis in his beautiful and soul-searching sermon "The Weight of Glory."

You would think, then, that we Christians would long for heaven and would seek with determined zeal to draw near to God. But we don't. Why? On one level, we do not long for heaven because we do not really believe it exists. But on another level, we ignore the heavenly possibility because we fear death. Only when we are under extreme suffering or have lost all meaning and hope in life do we long to die and be with our God. Even then, it is not the attractiveness of heaven and the joy of being with God that motivates us, but the despair of soul and the longing to be released from pain and suffering.

For the most part, however, we do not yearn to be near God because we do not find sin utterly repugnant or goodness rapturously attractive. As Lewis noted in his sermon, "We are halfhearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea." For me it was not mud pies but football. When my mother forced me to sit by the piano and pound away at scales, I found it impossible to dream of the joy of creating music that would thrill my soul. The thrill of the football game going on in the vacant lot next door erased all thought from my mind of the beauty of music. While Lewis's hypothetical child has never seen the sea, I indeed had heard the notes of the ...

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July/August
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