Saturday, November 6, 2010

Contemplations in Theology: #14

One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 6:3 - "Do you not know that we will judge angels?" It is a deliciously vague verse, dropping the merest hint of our future as restored humanity.

Angels reside continually in the unadulterated Presence of God. It shows. I can't remember a single instance in Scripture where a guy meets an angel and doesn't fall to his knees in incapacitating fear. We're talking about Seriously Tall People with flaming swords, heads of lions, massive wings, circles within circles... you know, the works.

And yet 1 Corinthians 6:3 tells us that the Christian shall not only be able to withstand such a sight, but shall indeed be judges presiding over such creature.

God has something up His sleeves. Angel means 'messenger' or (more broadly) 'agent,' so the angels were made to carry out and communicate His will. I will not attempt a more detailed examination of what angels are, for I will readily admit I could care less. The point is that God made humanity in HIS OWN IMAGE. We are more than agents, more than messengers, more than any heavenly creature. For God implanted in our souls the germ of Himself. Our souls yearn for Him for this reason. We desire the good, the true and the beautiful because those noble qualities reflect Him. We are defined as human precisely in the degree to which we reflect God.

And then we fell.

Salvation is like a Texas Two-Step. First we're saved... then we're really saved. Justification is necessary to get us through the door, past the threshold, to the hearth of Heaven and the arms of God. But what will we do once we're there?

Most Christians, if they're honest with themselves, will admit that an eternity of harps and choral singing sounds -- frankly -- as boring as Hell. Granted, we're supposed to be happy about the prospect because God will be there, and admittedly, that would make up for quite a bit. But why would we ever look forward to losing everything that we enjoy in this life, those things that define us as human?

Such a heaven is a heresy. If our humanity is defined by the image of God, then God could not have intended to remove that image from us when we are saved. If anything, our humanity shall be amplified, purified, pushed to its outer bounds. C.S. Lewis once wrote that humans are like children who prefer mud pies over chocolate, a sandbox over a day at the beach. Our desires aren't excessive; they're too small. We think too small. The harps and the choral singing isn't going to be our full-time occupation in the heavenly barracks. The music is supposed to symbolize the ecstasy we shall experience in the Presence of God, an ecstasy we sometimes find in music. The words of praise speak to the joy of our hearts that will be constantly expressing gratitude towards God.

There is no temple in the New Jerusalem. The city is the temple. Our entire lives will glorify God, and God will glorify our entire lives.

There's the word: glorify. Justification is nice for those first baby-steps, but glorification is the meat of our eternal future. Christ was the firstborn, the Son of Man just as surely as the Son of God. And the saints are the children of God, who died with Christ in His death and are raised up with Him through His resurrection. We owe everything to God, and will owe Him all the more when He lavishes His love upon us.

Please, enough with the heaven of school uniforms, of starchy collars and organ music (unless you actually like organ music, in which case let your imagination run wild). Heaven is going to be beyond your wildest dreams, almost as far beyond description as God is, mostly because it's going to be God's party, put on for all eternity for our enjoyment.

Since before time began, God prepared a feast for you. Now He's waiting for you to arrive, His guest of honor. Traffic's a beast, but the party is worth it.

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