Monday, May 29, 2023

The Purpose of Heaven (John 14)

“I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may also be” (John 14:3).

It would not be difficult to understand why someone would reject the idea of hell, but of heaven? Yet arguments against the Christian doctrine of heaven are not uncommon. We see this manifested in existential philosophy, which is prevalent in the arts and literature of today. In the existential scheme, man exists simply to face the hardships of life with courage, to perform his duties despite the odds, to exert his indomitable will in the varied and arduous circumstances of life, and to stare death in the face without fear. The existentialism of Nietzsche and Sarte permeate the works of Camus, Hemingway, and even the sci-fi sagas of Star Trek. Virtue is defined as the ability to overcome struggle, weakness, and even death. They brand as meaningless a life of ease and tranquility, asserting that only in hardship, in duty, does one find purpose and ultimate meaning.

The existentialists of the post-modern era, along with the existentialism of days gone by, reject heaven not only because of their underlying atheism, but because, to them, it represents stagnation. They maintain that a world of bliss and serenity would rip apart the fabric of humanity—after all, they would ask, isn’t our courage to face our imperfections, our ability to own the reality of death, and our acceptance of mortality the building blocks of human existence? For the existentialist, reality, meaning, and purpose culminate in death, not in heaven.

This is where they tragically miss the point. Heaven is not empty of purpose simply because it is free from struggle. The essence of human existence is not facing trial and death with courage. Heaven is not the stagnation of existence but the culmination of existence. It is the very essence of purpose—not the purpose posited by existentialism, but the purpose of God, which is nothing less than glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever. Heaven overflows with meaning because there people actively and completely fulfill their greatest purpose—to worship the Lord and to enjoy a love that is “as strong as death” and “burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame” (Song 8). In heaven, we will not wander aimlessly on enraptured clouds, but we will find purpose and meaning in Christ, our King and our God, for eternity.

Read 1 Corinthians 7:29–31 and 1 John 2:15–17. What occupies your mind the most throughout the day? Do you think about God, heaven, or spiritual things, or are you preoccupied with earthly concerns? At the beginning of each day, ask God to help you think about spiritual matters and not be consumed by worldliness.