Across the world Christians dream, sing and talk about the promise of an eternity in heaven with Jesus. But, is that even in the Bible, or is it a historical confusion that is far removed from what God has actually promised?
Plato was a Greek philosopher who lived around 400bc. He realised that if you wanted the population to get behind the republic and live sacrificially for the benefit of the community, they would need some encouragement. The answer was to encourage everyone that death, rather than reducing you to a less than human shadow (a popular belief at the time) could actually be a promotion. A time of reward and bliss.
The prison of the body
The idea that Plato and others put forward that this world isn’t the true reality started to grow. People began to believe that our bodies were a prison that we had to endure for as long as we were on earth. They were encouraged to look forward to being released from this physical prison, a release that only death could bring.
Free the soul
Because the world was thought to be a secondary reality it was believed that once the soul was released from the body, people could become their real selves, free from this apparently shadowy and corrupt world. This belief has so permeated Western history that many Christians still have the same thinking. However the Bible tells us that our bodies are amazing and an essential part of who we are, though they are currently broken by sin.
As we read through the pages of Scripture we discover a very different story to that put forward by Plato. Jesus didn’t come to simply get us to heaven, but to redeem all of creation from the effects of mans sin. Through the cross Jesus recued you, me, nature, the planets and stars, the whole lot. We can also add our bodies to that list, which though still suffering from the effects of death are in for a big change.
When we read the word hope in the Bible, it is worth remembering that it isn’t the same as us ‘hoping to win the lottery’ or hoping things will turn out okay. Bible hope is a rock solid certainty that hasn’t happened yet, but upon which we can base our faith, emotions and decisions.
However we read the book of Revelation we all agree one thing; God wins! When all is done heaven and earth will join and we will be in God and He will be in us forever, but in a physical world made perfect, rather than wandering around heaven in a disembodied state.
The best is yet to come
The New Testament tells us to set our hope fully on the appearing of the Lord Jesus. Our tendency is to set our hope on the things of this age, but they are temporary. However when He comes, all wrongs will be righted, justice will be done, every tear dried and all death, suffering and disease forever destroyed. It sounds too good to be true, but it is our future hope. The earth and the universe will be recreated and our bodies will be made to be like Jesus’ body. We don’t know exactly what we will be like or the details of what happens, but we will be like Him, and let’s face it, with God in charge it is going to be truly awesome.
Go well my friends 🙂