“I’m not so sure I want to go to heaven.” This is a legitimate thought I had as a kid, and I know I’m not alone. I grew up in church, it was often boring and presented a similarly boring picture of the afterlife. “Basic” was not yet a meme in this pre-social media world, but that pretty much describes the image of heaven I picked up. Nothing really to do there, some singing, everyone would get their very own halo, maybe a lion and a lamb chilling together, golden streets, an emerald city… or was that the last part the Wizard of Oz? Either way, just like the Ugg wearing, Pumpkin Spice loving “basic” girl of Instagram, the “basic” heaven starter pack is predictable and uninspiring. The good news is, there is absolutely no way heaven will, in fact, be “basic.”
Let’s start with this: God loves diversity and variety. “Basic” at it’s core is homogenous, it means everything the same, and that was the Sunday School handout picture I was shown of eternity: We’d all be wearing the same robes, doing the same things FOREVER. No surprises and one color palette (white on white on white!…. And maybe a little gold!). Even worse I imagined all our personalities would melt away into a churchy Stepford Wives kind of thing. Pretty bleak, and ridiculous if you know who God is.
The good news is, there is absolutely no way heaven will, in fact, be basic.
The sheer scope of life on this planet from Anglerfish, to lighting bugs, to Palm Trees is bizarre and totally unexplainable apart from the fact that God wanted it that way. There are humans of all sizes, shades, personalities and talents. He could have made us all the same, but no! He wanted the fun pack! So why on earth would a God of endless creativity, who clearly loves variety allow that to be lost in eternity?
We will not be forfeiting our personalities to become harp playing robots for entrance into the pearly gates. In fact, my guess is our diversity and individuality will be magnified in heaven, in part because we’ll finally be free of the horrible pressure of society to fit in and conform. How fun is it to think that in heaven we’ll get to be exactly who we are without shame or hiding, and we’ll get to see others be free to be exactly who they are as well.
Not only will we continue to be very much ourselves, but knowing who God is, there’s no way heaven could be the kind of mind-numbing, never-ending hallelujah chorus line I’d imagined. God is a mover and a shaker. He is constantly and effortlessly creating, and this beautiful complexity is reflected again in creation. Our world is teeming with life of mind-blowing intricacy, from the galactic trajectory of stars and planets down to the tiniest microscopic level within our own veins. It’s beautifully ordered chaos.
God loves things to be alive and changing and growing. I mean, He gave us free will for the sake of true relationship; there is nothing messier than that. Or more beautiful. Heaven will reflect who God is: His endless creativity, spontaneity and freedom. And you KNOW there will be laughing in heaven. For some reason, no one talks about that, let alone the fact that God clearly has a sense of humor, which if you’ve lived more than 5 seconds on earth, you know to be true. Basically what I’m saying is, if you think you’ve heard some solid comedians on earth—just wait till we get to hear “dad jokes” as told by God the Father. I guarantee they slay.
So why on earth would a God of endless creativity, who clearly loves variety allow that to be lost in eternity?
A full picture of eternity is something we spend very little time fleshing out in most American churches, and we are missing out. There are so many hokey, trivial ideas floating around of what heaven will be like that do a serious disservice to us and to God.
Do I have guarantees of exactly what Heaven will be like? Obviously no, but I do know who God is based on my experience with Him and His nature as revealed through creation and the Bible. It makes me think of that amazing quote from “The Chronicles of Narnia” about Aslan. When asked whether Aslan is “safe,” the answer is, “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King.”
We grossly underestimate who God is when we assume heaven will be boring or “basic.” It’s impossible for heaven to fully make sense to us here and now, or feel “safe,” but we know our King. And He is good. He knows us better than anyone ever will, every cell, every thought, every moment. He created us for Himself and eternity, so there is NO WAY eternity will be disappointing. Whatever it really does looks like, heaven will be exactly what this human heart was created to long for.
And to think, the whole above train of thought began here, with one thought-provoking video. Check it out: