What's the best thing about heaven?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

When I was around three years-old, I used to ask my mom to read to me about heaven. She proceeded, like the awesome mom she is, to read from Revelation 21-22. Here we are greeted by a splendid description of comfort, hope, and physical beauty. I was amazed at the precious stones whose names I couldn't pronounce, the measurements I couldn't fathom, and the purity of it all. Over the years, I've rested in the promise of God that my future home is in such a wonderful place. In the past few months, I've reviewed the passages, and I've been startled at what God has shown me. It takes my child-like faith and deepens it to a passionate love for the glory of God. I could expound on each part of the description, but let me just summarize. The beauty described isn't coincidental; it isn't brilliant because God is sustained by it. The reason there is such brilliance is because God is there. "And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper" (Revelation 21:10,11). God's glory is so great, so magnificent, that just being in His presence occasions a reflection of His glory. Here is our comfort in all of this, "And the city has no need of the sun or the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it" (Revelation 21:23,24). I have three things to mention here:
  1. The glory of Lord will be shining in the city. The very nature of Christ will be filling the city!
  2. We will walk by this light! The removal of the sun and moon signifies the removal of our temptations. We will no longer try to rely on anything other than God. I envision myself sitting inside, in front of a window, on a cold winter day, warming myself by the light shining through it. How I enjoy resting in the light and warmth! Much more than that will God enrapture me with Himself!
  3. The kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it. I think one of the morsels of comfort in this statement is that any glory that any human has is that which the Lord has provided. Therefore, God's glory in redeeming us, namely the image that has now been completely conformed to Christ, shines forth when we enter into his presence.
    I must praise God for giving me my greatest desire, my only hope, Himself.

"The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted 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. We are far too easily pleased."

(C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,1965], pp. 1-2.)

Come Thou Fount
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

-From Come Thou Fount by Robert Robinson