Today's post is by guest writer Keith Ward
Somehow Dene and I were talking about the figurative language God uses to describe heaven and she said that a 4th grader once told her in a class that it seemed to her that all you did in heaven was more church, sitting around and singing all the time and she was not sure she wanted to do that forever. Her point was that we need to use figures and expressions of heaven that give our children a real hope, a motivating hope, not something to dread like having to sit still in church. Of course, the picture will need to be changed as the children grow older. But, is there anything sacrilegious about saying heaven is like playing with the puppy all day, or Disney World where you never get tired and there are no lines, or a favorite game, or gameboy?
Before you react, consider the silliness of God’s picture, but it still communicated something to hope for to motivate those people through persecution. A city with walls so high and thick as to be absolutely impregnable communicated the hope of security and safety to people who rarely enjoyed much of either. But, then, the gates never closed! What security is there in that? And, I doubt gates of pearl would be much good against battering rams anyhow. But, the awesome beauty attracts a lively hope.
Or, streets of gold. To people who lived day to day, often unsure of their next meal, just think how much food there would be in a city where they could afford to use gold for paving. What a stable economy. Wouldn’t the housing be sumptuous?
And the tree of life bearing 12 manner of fruit, yielding its fruit in every month. But how are there months in a place where there is neither sun nor moon but God is its light? But, for those in fear of disease and death, a picture of a constant and flavorful source of life motivated them to try a littler harder to overcome.
A lack of focus on hope has made our service lifeless and gutted our attempts to change and to grow.
Our purity has become less than it ought to be, less possible, less a concern because we are living on outdated figures of heaven that provide no motivation to us. If heaven means a garden with no weeds or diseases and no off season, dream on. If it is flying like a bird, singing beautifully, running with the wind, hearing the music that is beautiful beyond all the composers, if it is plenty, security, health in whatever terms you dream, then dream on and gird up the loins of your mind to make your heart sing and your life pure to be worthy of the sacrifice that made your dreams possible.