Mega-Church Pastor Bill Hybles says that among his earliest memories of church was being in a children’s choir. They dressed up in robes, stood on risers and practiced a lot.
And, he says, as a child he hated almost every minute of it! He hated putting that robe on and he hated having to stand still for so long.
“To make matters even worse, the choir director told me, ‘If you don’t like singing in the choir, you’re not going to enjoy heaven.’ So, as a child, I thought of heaven as putting on a choir robe and standing on a riser and singing for all eternity. So, I wasn’t really all that excited about going to heaven.”
Maybe you feel the same way. Your images of heaven are less than ideal thanks to previous religious teaching. You have some vague ideas about pearly gates, streets of gold, walls of jasper, a great white throne and mansions for everyone.
Or perhaps you got Hollywood’s version with the fluffy white clouds, people sitting around playing harps all day long and eating cream cheese.
But, the Apostle John, In Revelation, Chapter 21, talks about heaven in terms of the relational. Since God is love [1 John 4:8, 16] and He instituted believers in Jesus Christ to be His Forever Family, we have been adopted into that family [Romans 8:15, 23, 9:4]. As sons and daughters of God it only follows that heaven will simply be an extension of that family that God has created. Therefore, heaven will be a place of relationships, yet free of all the negative complications we experience here on Earth.
First, there will be new relationships.
“I saw a new heaven and a new Earth, for the first heaven and the first Earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. . .”
Then in Verse 5 he says, “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’”
Our relationships in heaven are going to be completely ‘new and improved’ and different from those we had on Earth. With God’s love infusing, effusing and suffusing every heart, all hurts will be healed and we will never have to worry about crime, abuse, sickness, sorrow, injustice, being rejected or being unloved.
Second, our relation with God will be intimate and personal. In the last part of Verse 2 John says, “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now thee dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.’”
Using symbolism, God equates this union with Him in terms of a joyous marriage. If you think some wedding plans are elaborate and extravagant, consider how this wedding has been planned by God since before the foundation of the world! And we shall be robed in white as a symbol of our desirability and purity.
In Verses 6-7 John quotes Jesus who says, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”
The promises in these verses are sensational.
Each one of us will have an individual personal relationship with God bound by the strongest connection that exists – familial kinship. God has no greater gift to bestow on us than son-ship. We will be His sons and daughters and like a gentle father He will be our protector, provider, counselor and friend – forever.
Heaven truly is something to look forward to and a wonderful destination. Make plans to be there!