When Heaven Explodes With Color
We await our blessed hope, the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13)
by John Yocum
The age to come
If we are honest, however, that hope at times seems less blessed than we might want to admit. I have a friend who, in her honesty, sometimes fears that she won't really enjoy heavenly life that much. The thought of an eternal time of worship doesn't always appeal to her.
Her misgiving feeds on the notion that the age to come will be like our experience of the 'spiritual' things we do in this life, only longer. But the age to come will mean not the elimination, but the re-creation of everything in this life. It will not be a narrower, but a broader, deeper and fuller experience of all the good in the world we now know, with none of the effects of sin. We ourselves will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:52)
The world as it is now is often at odds with God's intention, and even the good things God created to be enjoyed can entice us away from Him. When I'm deep in prayer, I usually close my eyes because the things around me are a distraction.
glorious presence magnified
Isaiah describes that day in one of the Sunday Advent readings:
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,Everything blooms; everything explodes with life in Isaiah's vision. The dusty, hostile desert gives way to running streams and bubbling springs. Flowers spring up in the desert. Nature itself sings. Everywhere the world is alive with God's glory, and testifies to his majesty.
In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis
depicts a cosmic bus ride from a dismal, grey hell to heaven exploding
with color. When the passengers alight, what they find is a more colorful,
more substantial earth. The light at first is nearly blinding. The blades
of grass are like needles to their tender feet. The guide who conducts
The adjustment Lewis imaginatively
describes mirrors the training that is meant to be accomplished in this
life, according to Paul. As he reflects on his own hardships, Paul says,
"this slight, momentary affliction is preparing us to carry a weight of
glory beyond all comparison. (2Corinthians 4:17) "The Hebrew word for "glory'
means "weightiness." Though 2 Corinthians is written in Greek, the rabbi
Paul probably has that
of training for glory
That's why Paul says the life of training for glory is one in which 'we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) What Paul means by 'unseen' is not permanently invisible, but not yet visible. Deferred gratification is part of Christian hope.
But gratification there will be in abundance. And it won't be poorer, but richer than the pleasures of this life. At the end of the day, we'll need new bodies just to cope with it. We'll need new equipment to handle heaven's higher voltage. (Romans 8:22-23) We find some things in life a struggle just because we get tired, or sick, or hungry. Even when our hearts are right, our bodies don’t always cooperate. Our bodily weaknesses came together with the spiritual corruption of sin. Some day that will all be behind us.
In the meantime, we look to the things we don't yet see; to the day when what is mortal will be swallowed up in life; when the lame will leap with joy; when the dumb will shout aloud; when the deaf will hear the music of heaven; when the blind will open their eyes and see -along with all of us --the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.
[Dr. John Yocum, an elder in the
Servants of the Word, teaches
theology at the Loyola School of Theology in Manila, Philippines. This
article was originally published in True North Magazine, a publication
of the Ligaya ng Paginoon Community in
Manila, Philippines. Used with permission.]
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