What is heaven like?
By MICHAEL J. BROOKS / Guest Columnist
Note: This is an opinion column.
A mother wished to comfort her daughter when Fluffy, the family cat, died.
“Honey,” she said somberly, “Fluffy’s in heaven.”
“What’s God gonna do with a dead cat?” her daughter asked.
A common question we ask is, “What is heaven like?” And many ideas have been proposed. I heard a new idea once at a funeral. The officiating pastor noted the deceased’s love for the outdoors and insisted, “He’s now hunting and fishing in heaven.”
I remembered the joke Baptist music ministers used to tell about “I stand on Jordan’s stormy banks and cast”—stopping the lyrics at this point—as a way to acknowledge the importance of fishing. But this is only a joke.
And hunting? Isaiah said, “The wolf will lie down with the lamb,” so it’s hard to imagine animals being hunted in the new world (Isaiah 11:6). A gentle animal being shot would be like the recent death of Cecil, the lion, in Zimbabwe. I think the minister was simply using a metaphor about fulfillment.
Others insist all we’ll do is sing in heaven. Mark Twain once remarked that most people don’t like to sing, but insist they’ll sing for 1,000 years in heaven!
Of course the Bible teaches we’ll worship in heaven. We’ll praise the God who invited us there and thank him for his gift of eternal life. But worship isn’t all we’ll do in heaven, just as it’s not all we do on earth.
Part of our confusion about heaven, I think, is due to our misunderstanding about work. Some insist work is part of humanity’s curse due to sin, but a proper reading of Genesis reveals God assigned Adam work to do before he sinned. Work has always been God’s plan. He instructs us to seek and perform meaningful work in order to provide for our families, to invest in his kingdom and to help others.
We also bring honor to God by being good employees.
Scripture teaches one day we’ll “beat our swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.” Whereas this prophecy primarily foretells a world without war, it’s noteworthy that plowshares and pruning hooks are agricultural tools.
I’m not sure what kind of work we’ll do in heaven, but the Bible certainly doesn’t tell us we’ll be sitting in easy chairs and clicking our remotes for eternity.
I believe heaven will be filled with surprises. The Apostle Paul said, “eye has never seen, nor has ear heard, what God has prepared for those who love him,” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
- L. Moody observed, “God rightly tells us little about heaven. If we understood the glory of it, we‘d long for it so much we’d shirk our responsibilities on earth.”
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is Siluriabaptist.com.