How Do You Think About Heaven?
2 Peter 3:10a, 13-14 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…. Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.
Revelation 21:4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Hebrews 13:14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.
What role does the anticipation of heaven play in your thoughts, your heart and your life as a whole? We probably know of situations where Christians barely give a thought to heaven, and others who seem to live only for it. There might even be good reasons for those seeming extremes.
Perhaps some believers are temporarily focused on doing God’s will right here, right now. They know that scriptures aren’t that specific about heaven (or aren’t as specific as they would like them to be), so they let the reality of heaven go, leaving it in the realm of the mysterious and unknowable future.
Some others, perhaps, suffer so greatly in this life that they derive much of their strength to go on from the hope that heaven brings them—an end to pain. Others are genuinely so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good (as the saying goes), anticipating the future so avidly that they lose some sense of God’s calling on them now.
As life goes on, trials come and go, and as we near the end of our lives, heaven will take an ever-changing place in our thoughts and hearts. But in general, we are to joyfully anticipate heaven while living obediently in the present, fully connecting with His call and His grace in the here and now. Heaven is not our mental place of escape in challenging circumstances. The Lord Himself should be that to us. After all, He is our refuge, and wants us to know Him that way in this life.
In addition, the scriptures make it clear that since we are awaiting a new heaven and new earth, that anticipation should affect today’s behavior. 2 Peter asks “what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God?” and “looking forward to these things, [we should] be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.”
The reality of heaven is supposed to impact our lives today, and not just as the time when our pain and suffering are gone. Heaven, or the new age, or the new heavens and earth—mean that the age of grace, the time of the gospel, will be over. Knowing that, we can rejoice in that sure future while also digging deep to share the good news with others, be obedient to all we know He is showing us to do, and follow Him as closely as we can.
Prayer: Father, help me to have a right attitude toward heaven. Help me to anticipate it rightly, and to let that hope empower and encourage me here. May that living hope affect my thoughts and actions in just the way You’d like.