In ‘Heaven is for Wimps and Posh Women – Part Two’ I mentioned the way Jesus once told people about hell, using an accessible, ‘earthly’ place as an analogy. I think he sometimes talked about heaven using earthly ‘hooks’ in the same way. He said, for instance, there would be wealth in heaven—treasure—but not like earthly wealth. He hinted that valuing that kind of wealth went with a complete change of mindset—‘where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’.
You could say that was a bit like the sermon I heard where the evangelist said you wouldn’t enjoy heaven unless you were a Christian. But Jesus started from where people were. He reminded them how earthly wealth gets stolen and possessions deteriorate and He simply said that heavenly wealth doesn’t.
That’s a good investment in anybody’s book, especially after the banking crisis. He said that heaven’s wealth was a complete step up in value. He helped us grasp a bit of what this means—but only by letting a bombshell drop which puts all of economics in a completely different light. He said that the whole business of handling earthly wealth acted as a test for whether a man could be trusted with any of the stuff in heaven, at all. He called that ‘true riches,’ which makes out earth’s wealth is sort of counterfeit by comparison. In the same conversation, he also seemed to hint something else about heaven, to do with wealth, which is mysterious but tantalising. He seemed to be saying that we don’t really know on earth, what it is to truly own something for ourselves. We will be trusted with real ownership, only in heaven. In the light of that—what a con, earthly greed will turn out to have been in the end.
Will a bloke just sit around, just listening, sometimes singing and doing mostly passive things in heaven, like in most church services? I don’t think so. Jesus hinted that we would have responsibilities. He used the picture of us governing cities. I think this means we will be useful.
The last book of The Bible says that we will be servants of God, reigning and bringing glory and honour into the heavenly ‘city’. We’ll be working, doing stuff. And I don’t think it means things like handing out the heavenly service sheets or checking the heavenly PowerPoint projector either. In fact, because Jesus seems to think that every aspect of heaven is bigger, more real and more significant than any counterpart on earth, then these responsibilities are going to dwarf any previous ones we’ve ever known. We’ll be more use in heaven than we ever were on earth.
But since we know there’ll being nothing bad in heaven, this won’t come with the grinding pressure or the fear of failure we know here. We can’t understand how, yet, but I think these responsibilities will be perfectly fulfilling, challenging and satisfying, without any downsides. And like the way we handle earthly wealth, Jesus made out that how we handled earthly responsibilities was a test for what heavenly responsibilities we would be trusted with.
There’s another mysterious hint about all this in the picture language of the last book of The Bible. It says that on reaching heaven, God will give each of us a new name and we will each be the only person who understands that name. In other words, as far as God’s concerned there is something uniquely special and valuable about you and about how and why He made you. There is a unique secret between each of us and God. Being finally told what it is, is a reward not a punishment. Some have said that it’s something to do with the work we’ll be doing. Some have said it’s something to do with each of us being made to appreciate a unique aspect of God. Whatever it is, it’s part of what we were each created for and it must be worth more than any other gift we could ever be given.
A man can sometimes look at a drop-dead gorgeous woman and feel something different from lust. Sometimes just what she looks like can speak of wisdom, grace, openness, strength and peace. Writers have used the phrase, ‘the face of an Angel’. This may be the closest many men come to what the World means by worship. Heaven must be where we find that earthly feeling is just a shadow of the real thing; where the spell can’t be broken by some earthly ‘angel’ opening her mouth and telling you to … off, or breathe out the smell of stale cigarettes.
A man can turn to drink, drugs and loveless sex to look for satisfaction and fulfilment but fail to find it and become a slave of these things. Heaven must be the place where a man finds complete satisfaction and fulfilment in the only kind of slavery which gives him true freedom, and that is in service to God.
The preacher I mentioned in the first blog was right. Heaven must be full of praise and song and is only heaven because we will meet Jesus. But the praising won’t just be a passive, endless gazing at someone. Worship (praise) even in this life is described in the Bible in terms of how we live our lives. So in heaven surely it will keep us involved in the most meaningful, useful, important, challenging, interesting and rewarding stuff we could imagine and beyond imagining. I don’t think time as we know it will be an issue. Any ‘singing,’ (to use our poor idea of singing), will be something more than we can now understand and it won’t depend on earthly talent or musical appreciation. It will be more welcome to us than water to a man dying of thirst.
Many men come closest to heaven on earth, at home with their family or with a bunch of mates they’ve shared adventures and hardships with. But for many people this ends in conflict, broken relationships, pain and regret. And death finally brings an end to all friendship and family bonds.
One picture of heaven in the Bible is a celebration feast with Jesus and the saints—our elder brother and our brothers and sisters in Christ. But this image of heavenly friends and family isn’t going to inspire me deeply, if I’ve never had a strong bond with my Christian brothers and sisters in this life. And perhaps the secret truth deep inside many of us is that we don’t feel massively inspired, day by day by the prospect of eventually meeting Jesus. Perhaps this is related to why we don’t have a strong bond with our brothers. Perhaps it’s because virtually our only experience of Jesus is from reading His story in the Bible, wonderful as that is.
Only as we move on from that first knowledge and acceptance of Him and take risks in life, doing things for Him and with Him, which put our time, our comfort, our peace, our money, our career and our safety on the line will He begin to make himself known to us more and we know Him more.
Only as we do this with a band of brothers will we feel a bond with them.
Only in this way will we begin to truly look forward to meeting Him and his saints as they shout ‘COME ON!’ to us on the home straight.
Only by doing this will we start to find out what heaven is like in this life, because it’s going to happen in the New Earth anyway.
Only as we do this will we know that heaven isn’t for wimps and posh women, but it’s where men find out what being fully masculine is about. And for that matter it’s where women find out what being fully feminine is about, posh or not.
So sign up to Codelife and just do it.