Heaven is where you want to be. I know it’s where I want to be. Whether you’re talking about hamburgers or mattresses or whatever, when you describe it with that word it always conjures the same image. It’s the ideal, the perfect, the most dearly desired. It’s where you want to be.
When someone refers to heaven, we understand the reference immediately, and we’re just lowly earth-dwellers. Imagine how much more it means when it’s coming from someone who actually has some experience with the place.
Jesus tosses off this reference to heaven like someone talking about his hometown, wishing things here were more like back in the old ‘hood. But He knows better than anyone the weight of the reference. In that phrase, He tells us not only something about heaven but also about the nature of He who runs the place.
Because we all know what heaven is, but what is it that makes heaven heaven? What is the fundamental difference between Jesus’ old ‘hood, and ours? Based on the compare/contrast Jesus offers here — “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” — there is one crucial distinction: in one place, God’s will is done; in the other place, it isn’t. And that makes all the difference.
On earth, God tolerates all manner of shenanigans from us — our whims, our viciousness, our selfishness. In short, our sin. In heaven, He tolerates no such thing. His will is done, fully and completely. His will, and no one else’s.
To earthly ears, that sounds like tyranny — the total, unquestioned rule by one over all. But in heaven, it’s… heaven.
Because that’s who God is. He is the perfect, the ideal, the most dearly desired. The fantasy that’s been planted in our heads by years of exposure to marketing about what makes something “heavenly”—the perfect turkey sandwich or the perfect relationship or the perfect life—that fantasy is a shadow cast through a foggy lens on a cloudy day. It can’t come close to the reality of God’s heaven. And it’s as real as stone. And in His perfected love, it’s what He wants to give us.
There is a gulf between our lives and our perfected lives, between where we are and where we should be. That gulf is exactly as wide as the distance between our will and God’s will for us. Where those two things are the same is the place we call heaven.
Jason Anderson is a Birmingham, Alabama web designer and deep, deep thinker (read “procrastinator”) who blogs about religion and culture at The Cynical Christian and anywhere else people will let him. He’s the husband of Rachel and proud father of an ultrasound image of a baby boy (three-dimensional boy coming in September).
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