When someone we love dies, it comforts us to think of them transitioning into eternity. We refer to the people with whom they’ve reunited, the antics they might be up to, the favorite foods they are enjoying with no guilt, the birthdays they celebrate, and so on. I understand the need to comfort ourselves, yet at what cost? Is our comfort the goal? It’s certainly not our loved ones’ comfort.
While we do not have the power to limit heaven, we certainly limit the scope of how we perceive it. We use the expression “heaven on earth” to describe a very enjoyable experience or location even though, of course, the experience or location has little to do with the realities of heaven. Perhaps we should start being honest with ourselves and use an expression “earth in heaven” to describe what we’re projecting onto our loved ones’ experiences and our own comfort.
What difference does it make? I’m not sure. Perhaps the impact is minimal. We may know heaven is a lot more than an extension and enhancement of life on earth, but what if we don’t? There’s a lot about heaven we don’t know, but based on Scripture, I’m fairly certain it has little to do with what our life on earth has been. The problem is we’ve experienced our highs here on earth. We have our favorites. When we think about living forever in heaven, we take the best of what we have here on earth and imagine taking it with us—even though we say we can’t take it with us. We leave all our material stuff behind. What is ahead is better. We leave what we need to live on earth behind. What is ahead is better. And what about people and relationships? Well, if you dig into Scriptures, while not specific explanations, there are indicators we will know and understand others more fully and that there will be community. But will the specific relationships we have on earth carry into heaven? I don’t know that we can assume or refute it. But just as heaven is purer in every other aspect, we can safely trust we leave a lot behind but only in store for better—better than the best of what we’ve experienced here on earth.
We’re not going into an eternal retirement community. Eternity is now and forever, and it is absolutely steeped in purpose.
3 thoughts on “Heaven on Earth or Earth in Heaven?”
All musings I have had myself. My mother (before her confusion overcame her rational mind) said she had a hard time understanding how there could be no tears in Heaven if those we loved were not there too. I explained that the purpose of Heaven as I understand it from scripture is to be in constant worship of God. She didn’t like that answer too well…but from what I have read, it says nothing about seeing those we know here, only seeing God and his angels and being in communion with them.
I don’t try to correct people when they talk about what they hope their loved ones are enjoying in Heaven. Number one, I don’t really know myself and I am a far cry from a knowledgeable theologian. Number two, it is part of how folks deal with their grief.
Like the songs says, “I can only imagine…”
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I agree. I don’t want to get into a theological discussion when someone is soothing themselves. We honestly don’t know the specifics, and I’m okay with that. Whether about heaven or other “I wonders,” it’s important to at least consider we might be projecting our own wants into our faith, not to condemn ourselves and others but to be wise in what we’re focused upon and building into our faith. I always say I probably won’t even have any questions for God, because I’ll just be enjoying being in his presence!
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