Heaven is for Realists ~ BitterSweetLife

Friday, October 26, 2007

Heaven is for Realists

In many ways, Heaven is exactly the opposite of what it's assumed to be. It's a doctrine that caters to pragmatists and stark realists.

Some people argue that Heaven is a warm, fuzzy blanket for the emotionally unstable, but don't believe them--they haven't noticed what life is actually like down here. We live in a murky soup where people die and "ultimate" desires never satisfy--and all the same, we keep looking for life, real life, in every new face, around every corner. There's only one way this makes sense.

Truth is, our lives are taken away by Jesus' absence (and we sense the hollowness), but only he can give them back. ("For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." - Matthew 16:25) Christ brings the painful realization that earth is an astringent, half-empty place to live, and we're fools if we try to satisfy ourselves down here. Life on earth is an asset that does not appreciate; but Jesus is the happy light we sense beyond our shadows. We grasp his golden eternity by stepping away from our pyrite obsolescence.

That's why Heaven is for scarred fighters and inveterate realists. Heaven is the north star we navigate by, the birth we anticipate, the horizon we approach. Heaven is the strength-instilling drink we sip now and expect to swig later.

We learn about Heaven from Jesus--the bright, clear reality that's greater than anything we see. Heaven is, in our experience, too good to be true. That's why only the most audacious realists believe in it.

Like what you read? Don't forget to bookmark this post or subscribe to the feed.


Will Robison said...

I sense the truth of what you are saying. That there is no succor to be found here, that everything that gives satisfaction is fleeting and eventually useless to us (each fix requires more and more to achieve even a basic satisfactory high until the point when we will never be satisfied again, even temporarily). The goal of satisfying our desires is a goal of finding madness.

But I wonder why things are this way. Why must any sense of ultimate happiness, ultimate love, ultimate truth, ultimate satisfaction be denied to us completely until we die? Why must we deny everything in order to gain everything?

If I'm hungry for a cheeseburger now, why must I give up that cheeseburger on the hope that someday I will receive something even better? And why are we wired in such a way that if I choose to take the cheeseburger now, in a couple of hours I'll be hungry for that cheeseburger again.

Either way, we don't get the cheeseburger. Why? Why can't we have our cheeseburger and be satisfied as well?!

Regi G said...

I agree with you, Ariel.

I'm a pragmatist, and it gets me in trouble, sometimes.

Pragmatists, many of us, are naturally insatiable. Why? Why? Why? Why this? Why that? Constant curiosity often leads us into the way of Solomon--wise without satisfaction.

One of the shining verses, in my mind, is "Be still, and know that I am God."

This says to me, "Forget about your sorrows and discomforts. Forget about the highs and lows. Forget about the daily grind and the goals you're trying to fulfill. Just be. Here. With Me."

To Will:

This IS the cheeseburger. Love is transcendent, not necessarily ascendent. To be accepted in spite of your flaws...how great is that???

We don't attain it only when we die (physically), but when we realize that the things that normally drive us only drive us into the ground. When we let that go, when we just be still, we find life, love (a transcendent kind), and peace.

When we die physically, it will all be known more fully, because we no long have to feed our bodies to stay alive. We no longer have to drive ourselves toward temporal things. The lasting will overwhelm all of our senses, whereas now, we have to jam in moments to be still.

That is peace, not the world on a platter. Peace is now. I wage that we will never have the world on a platter, as that is not/should not be the ultimate goal.

Heaven is not merely having all our needs provided, since we won't have any needs. It is fulfillment of the highest order.

Regi G

Ariel said...

Will, here's the quote you're looking for...

The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why… Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.
- C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

You came close there to elevating cheeseburgers to the level of transcendent philosophy. So to adopt your terms, I'd argue that we do get the cheeseburger. And a good cheeseburger it is, too (assuming you didn't buy it at McDonald's). But we were made for more than cheeseburgers. When we treat the burger as our ultimate purpose in life, it lets us down...

I don't think I'm going to improve on C.S. Lewis, though, so I'll stop. You can see where I'm headed.

Pragmatists, many of us, are naturally insatiable. Why? Why? Why? Why this? Why that? Constant curiosity often leads us into the way of Solomon--wise without satisfaction.

This tends to be me as well, regi. It's a relief to be able to pose an answer to my questions that while still mysterious is ultimately satisfying. I look forward to the day when all accounts are settled and all frustrations stilled.

Will Robison said...

But even while eating the cheeseburger, you know that it will not sustain you, it will not last long, and it will be fleeting. No matter how sweet your temporary satisfaction is, you can never forget that it will be followed by the bitterness of real life. I guess that's why its called a bittersweet life.

(Sorry, but that occurred to me over the weekend, and I just had to share it ;)


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife