I recently watched a documentary on the events of 9/11 which is one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the world. As I watched the documentary I was reminded of the horror of that day. I know most of us probably can flashback and remember where we were the moment we heard about the events or saw them on TV. But in the documentary I was reminded of our American idea of heaven. We can tend to put our own spin on what heaven will be like and who will be there. We decide we want to speak for God which is a great mistake considering he has already spoken to us in his Word.
One of the tragic events that transpired that day was the story of two flight attendants that flew United 93 every week together. These two had become the best of friends over time. In God's providence, one of the flight attendants was on flight 93 when it was hijacked while the other was off that day. United flight 93 crashed that morning in Pennsylvania. Everyone aboard was killed including this lady's best friend and fellow flight attendant. In the documentary she says:
"Sometimes you get into conversations with people that when you die, who are the first people you want to meet in heaven and most people will say, 'My father, my mother, whatever' and I say, 'I want to see [my best friend]'."
Two very sad problems with this response:
1. What most people say
2. What this lady said
Sadly this is the idea of most people who want heaven but have no relationship with the God of heaven. Their idea of heaven is nothing more than a glorified version of earth. What ends up happening is people think golf courses and basketball courts go from grass and asphalt to gold. They think they will go skiing and tubing on crystal seas. They are excited about reuniting with friends and family. The most important things in heaven are nothing more than the most important things on this earth. But this should not be true of those who know and love Christ. This is also not the picture we get from the Scriptures.
The focus in the Scriptures is not on the golden street, pearly gates or crystal sea; the focus is on the Lamb who was slain sitting on his throne. The golden street leads to the throne. The crystal sea flows from the throne. The point is the Lamb, Jesus Christ. We should long for heaven because we want to see Jesus Christ, first and foremost. I love my dad and mom. I love my wife. I love my daughter. I love my friends. But I want to see Jesus!! I want to worship Jesus without sin. I want to be in his presence forever in heaven worshipping Christ. "No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him" (Rev. 22:3). What a day to long for!
Sadly I believe this truth about heaven bores most people. They cannot comprehend worshipping God for eternity. When they hear the truth about heaven they are turned off because it is not what they imagine. But this makes sense. If there is no relationship with Christ on earth, heaven would truly be hell for the unbeliever. But for the believer who understands God's holiness and their sinfulness, they long to worship the Lamb who was slain in their place. Jesus Christ is the only One who makes eternal life with God possible. He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). He is the only mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5). He is the only One every Christian longs to see face to face. O what a glorious day that will be!
Grace upon grace,