All my life I imagined heaven as a blissful place, where there would be no hardship, no tears and no pain. A place where I could live out the rest of eternity in complete personal satisfaction, doing only things that were interesting and fun and made me happy. All my own happy things, in all my personal happiness. Then I ruined that blissful image I had made up in my own mind when I read the Bible. Because it was then that I learned that the heaven described in the Bible is not the heaven I had always anticipated.
I’ve said this before and I will say it again, when you read the Bible in Its entirety, you are forced to reconcile all the misconceptions about God and Jesus that permeate the church today because people aren’t reading their Bibles. You don’t have to read the Bible to be saved in Jesus Christ, but it should be considered required reading for all Christians that desire to love and follow God with all their heart, their soul, their mind and their strength (Luke 10:27) and to properly interact and function within the Body of Christ (2 Tim 3:16,17). If the Holy Spirit is truly in you, and you read the Bible in genuine submission to It, then the very act of reading it will serve to refine you as a believer.
One of the first things you learn about heaven when you read what God has to tell us about it, is that we will be praising and worshiping Him for all eternity. We tend to make heaven all about us, but in all actuality, heaven is all about God. I remember the first time I read, “..they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple.” (Rev 7:14,15). When I read this I was like, “Whaaa…? Day and night? Serving God? Seriously? For.. All.. Eter..nity….?” For real?
I gotta be totally honest, at the time I read that, I was kinda bummed. That didn’t sound fun and interesting to me at all because in my version of heaven, I was the one being served. In my version of heaven, I did whatever I wanted, day and night, for all eternity. I liked the part that said, “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst….and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:16,17). I liked the part that said, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” (Rev 22:14). But I wasn’t so crazy about, “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him.” (Rev 22:3). I wanted to be in this glorious city, but I wanted to be in it on my own terms, doing my own thing. But there it was in black and white: If I was going to be in heaven, I wouldn’t be there to do my own thing, I would be there to serve and worship God. For all eternity.
Facing this truth forced me to ask myself many things, one of which being, “Am I following God because of religion, or am I following Him for a relationship?” Was I really even following God at all? Or was He more of an idea to me, than an actual person Who I was supposed to be interacting with on a daily basis? I also had to consider the fact that if praising and serving God for all eternity sounded boring and tedious and no fun at all, then it made my lack of a genuine, personal relationship with God glaringly obvious. Another thing I was forced to ask myself was, “Is the love I thought I had for God, actually just my love for all the other things that are supposed to come along with Him– not only here on earth, but also in heaven?” I had to ask myself, “If I am not living a life that eagerly praises and worships God here, then why would I think I would want to do it in heaven?”
Truly, God desires to give us good things, but first and foremost God’s deepest desire for us is to pursue and have an intimate relationship with Him. This is the very reason for which we were made. The whole purpose of the creation of human beings was because God desired to have children He could have an eternal relationship with. Children that would love and obey Him by their own free will, because they choose to love and obey Him. And because we were designed and created for this singular and sole purpose, nothing else could ever be heaven for us, nothing else could ever truly fill us with eternal joy and bliss, except to love Him, to praise Him, and to serve Him.
Scripture says that heaven is inconceivably wonderful, we are told that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor 2:9). However, if the thought of praising God and serving Him for all eternity while we are there doesn’t fill us with joyful anticipation, then it should serve as a litmus test for where we’re at in our walk of faith. For me, it was the wake-up call I needed to once-and-for-all get serious about my own faith– to be a Christian in practice, rather than just a Christian in concept.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’ ” (Rev 21:1-4).