Irony at Heaven's Gate ~ BitterSweetLife

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Irony at Heaven's Gate

The other day it struck me that the final judgment will be ironic in multiple ways. It is possible that I have jarring ideas of this nature more frequently than is strictly normal for a guy who always reads the Sports page first. I don't know, you tell me. Admitted, it's one reason I blog, to add some cogency to my distracted thought life.

I think there will be degrees of irony on the eschatological "Day of the Lord." This is when Jesus returns to the earth with all the regal swagger and political autocracy and militant divinity that most people wanted the first time, sporting expensive, jaw-dropping clothing like nothing anyone has seen before, and, if the biblical imagery is concrete, causing the sky to roll up like a yanked mini blind. Also, if Mark Driscoll is correct, we will see Jesus sporting a tattoo down his calf that will inspire both fear and dread. Wait and see on that one. There will be a lot to see, is what I'm getting at. But even more to feel.

What stoked this slow-moving train of thought was a verse from Matthew 19, where Jesus explains that everyone who loses wealth or power or respect or family--in short, anything--for the sake of God's kingdom, will receive, not only eternal life, but "a hundred-fold" return on their sacrifice. At the end of this affirming dialog, almost as an afterthought, Jesus adds: "But many who are first will be last, and the last first." I wonder if he said it quietly, with a regretful eeriness in his voice. Because it changes the tone of the whole scene, instantly.

It made me think what a shock it will be to see some of the big shot Christians scraping into Heaven by their teethskins while some of the mousy nobodies who didn't seem to be very impressive dudes, who preferred prayer to pontificating, and probably weren't cool enough to blog or grow interesting facial hair (cue: self-deprecating humor), are revealed as heroes.

Next I thought about the quiet, seemingly unmotivated people who always stayed in the background and who will, in fact turn out to be exactly that: unmotivated people who stayed in the background. Just when everyone was expecting them to pull a Houdini and escape from their apparent "lastness." Nope, turns out they really were distracted and spiritually stupid. They weren't just acting.

Finally, I thought about the amazing people of God whose earthly faith and dedication was the genuine article after all, the ones we'll greet with happy sighs of relief: "So you won't be 'the last' after all. You had me worried there for a minute, man."

And then I wondered which line I will be standing in. As I see it, in the topsy-turvy realignment-to-reality of Heaven, there will be a couple kinds of irony that will make you laugh out loud, and a couple that will bring the ache of regret, despite it being Heaven after all.

Christ, help me hug the role of a privileged servant, motivated by love, focused on those people who aren't me, whether I stay a little man or somehow get shoved up to sweat under the heat lamps.

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Drew D said...

I agree with you. As we know, Jesus is the kind of guy to turn things upside down. And It definitely made me think of several things I should give up.

That next to last paragraph is my favorite. It exemplifies one of my favorite qualities of God: He doesn't let any part of what He gave us go to waste. Whether he makes us "laugh out loud" or "ache [in] regret."

Anyway, great post!


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