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Do You Have This Secret Fear of Heaven?

Do You Have This Secret Fear of Heaven?

Many people have a secret fear about heaven: It sounds boring to them—like an eternal choir practice, where we prance about in diapers, playing a harp and listening to Morgan Freeman read the dictionary all day. And to some people, that sounds more like hell than heaven.

One prominent Christian pastor admitted, “Whenever I think about heaven, it makes me depressed. I’d rather cease to exist when I die. I can’t stand the idea of endless, boring tedium. To me, heaven doesn’t sound much better than hell. I’d rather be annihilated than spend eternity like that.”

But the Bible gives a much different picture of heaven.

First of all, there will be renewal in heaven. In Revelation 21:1, the Apostle John describes “a new heaven and a new earth” (NIV). The word used here for “new” is the Greek kainos, which means “remade.” It doesn’t mean “new” as in “completely unlike the old,” but as in “restored to perfection.” Heaven is not some colorless, ethereal realm, completely unlike where we are. It is a renewed, remade heaven and earth.

N.T. Wright says that we get a glimpse of this in the resurrection of Jesus, which is called the “firstfruits” of the new creation.

Firstfruits are the first of the harvest, which give you a sampling of what comes after it. That’s what Jesus’ resurrection was: a glimpse of our future and the world’s future.

There was continuity with the past: He had a body, he ate food and people recognized him. But his body didn’t have the same limitations. He flew around and, at one point, even apparated into a room.

Wright says, “One day God is going to do with the entire cosmos what he had already done with the resurrected Jesus.”

Jesus’ resurrection is the appetizer to the full-course meal of restoration, the trailer to the blockbuster film of redemption.

In other words, the new heaven and new earth is everything that we loved about the old heaven and earth, minus the curse of sin. Creation’s beauties are heightened, its pleasures strengthened and our limitations removed.

Frankly, I get downright giddy sometimes imagining what that will be like. What does the glorified, heavenly Hawaii look like? If what we see now is the cursed version, how much more stunning will the new one be? If a filet mignon is the best thing you’ve tasted this side of heaven, how much more will you enjoy the glorified version? (And yes, I’m confident that there will be meat in heaven. Even Jesus, in his resurrected body, went for the fish instead of just munching on bread.)

In heaven, we’ll experience pleasure without pain, beauty untainted by the curse. There, ice cream and cotton candy are good for you, and broccoli makes you gain weight. There is a football stadium where the Panthers win every single game and you can depend on Cam Newton.

As Tim Keller says, heaven is not so much “pie in the sky” as a “feast on earth.”

John goes on to describe heaven as a place where “his servants will serve him” (Revelation 22:3). What do servants do? They serve. One of the biggest myths about heaven is that we’ll be sitting around without anything to do. But servants aren’t bored. They’re constantly going places and doing things.

Work, you see, was part of God’s original creation. It was part of what we did in Paradise, which means when God restores the earth, work will be a part of the new creation, too. Except that it won’t be like it is here, filled with worry and struggle and toil.

God will assign each of us very fulfilling work in heaven. He knows how he shaped us and what we love to do. For some of you, it will be the first time you experience living according to your calling.

We’ve got a lot to look forward to in heaven, but the least I know is this: We won’t be bored. Boredom, after all, is part of the curse. It’s going away forever. We’ll be more fulfilled, engaged and entertained in heaven and feel more alive than we ever did on earth!

This article originally appeared here.

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J.D. Greear, Ph.D., is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastors the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Tagged by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America, the Summit has grown in the past 8 years from 400 to over 5,000 each weekend. The Summit Church is deeply involved in global church planting, having undertaken the mission to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years. J.D. has authored Breaking the Islam Code and the upcoming Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.