May 6, 2012
Different ... and Better
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
To be in Christ is to be moving toward an experience that must surely qualify as the ultimate eye‑opener. If we depart from this life in fellowship with Him, we will not have found ourselves on the other side for one instant before we realize two breathtaking things: (1) It is very different than we thought it would be, and (2) it is much better than we thought it would be.
In our present condition, we are not able to understand much more than the edges of God’s reality. The limitations of our creaturely minds, compounded by the problems resulting from our sin, mean that our vessels are too small to hold more than a little understanding of God and God’s heavenly abode. God has revealed God’s self to us wonderfully, of course, and what God has revealed is objectively true. Our limitation is not in the truth or accuracy of what we can know, but rather in the extent of that knowledge. And concerning heaven, God has said only that it will be “like” some of the more valuable things that we’re acquainted with in this world.
As we reach forward to eternity, we should hold in our minds the most vivid concepts of God and heaven that the Scriptures will allow us to entertain. But as we hold these concepts in our minds, we need to hold them gently, or even tentatively. The truth is, great surprises are in store for God’s faithful people, and even the most perceptive and wise should expect to have their imaginings corrected and improved by a greater reality when that time comes.
The God who created us for God’s glory is a God of such great goodness that no earthly visualization can take it in. But eventually, if we’ve yielded to God’s process of redemption, our eyes will be opened to the full extent of the majesty that we’ve wondered about for so long: “¼ it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” So while we are eager in our anticipation of heaven, let us also be humble, reverent, and open. Much about God remains to be seen. Little more than this do we really know: heaven will be better than even our best guesses right now.
"Earth breaks up, time drops away, In flows heaven, with its new day” (Robert Browning).