Humor allows us to pose questions that our serious minds might object to. I think William Boyd Watterson II ( the artist who draws Calvin & Hobbes ) poses a question that contemporary Christians seem to think is irrelevant.
How many people would really be happy in a world the likes of which Jesus spoke …. Forever?
We humans generally like to let our hair down from time to time. Goodness knows the mischief we got into when we were teens was far from godly, but allowing for the idea that salvation is supposed to wipe the slate clean, a lot of us have a really hard time staying on the straight and narrow even as adults. Specially after disappointment, and frustration, illness, and catastrophes. It’s one thing to think that God is with us, when we are suffering; but it’s quite a different thing to think of ourselves being “with” God in an environment that is totally foreign to us.
It’s not surprising that visions of “heaven” are often very human. Humanity is all we know, even the most spiritual or lofty thinkers among us. We know this world, we know what it’s like to be weary, to have our patience stretched, to need escape, to need space — so we really want to be around a bunch of goody two shoes’s? Or do we know anything about what the “mansions” Jesus promised to his followers at all? Surely a “mansion” sounds wonderful to someone living in a mud hut or a desert tent. A mansion sounds pretty good to someone living in a 500 sq ft apartment, or a dorm, or a hospital, or even a 3,000 sq ft country ranch. Who wouldn’t love luxury and leisure? But the God we have been taught about is someone who loves diversity, look at the variety of trees, birds, fish, insects he created — are we as open to diversity as he is? He/she/it is a someone who is not opposed to struggle in birth or in life. Life is not easy for many creatures. Is this the result of human sin or is it just the lot of other creatures? And what would be the lot of believers in the world to come?
Even as a lifelong believer I find that at this point in life, while dealing with physical challenges, there are moments when I question what challenge to undertake next. I wonder what it is that angels or people in heaven are imagined to be doing — forever?
Personally I can see a lot of ways to spend eternity. This is an amazing and expansive universe, just one of many. What might be possible outside of a body as we know it could be astounding and we may come to understand the universe in ways we can’t even imagine, but surely heaven isn’t sitting around eating and drinking and having a good time with the people we have known all our life — for Pete’s sake, many of us had a hard time doing that when we were alive as humans, what makes us think that those same people will be any more interesting or lovable then/there? And if they are suddenly changed into interesting lovable people would they even be the person we knew as a human? It’s all quite a challenge if we let our brain ponder for a while.
I’m not trying to poke fun at Christian beliefs — after all, it’s a point of view that I myself hold. But… I think that a great many of us are in for surprises at death’s door. We can’t expect to live a life of willfulness and expect to fit into a world that we’re told exists in harmony. What of our “rights”? What if we don’t “like” the way God does things, or other angels do them, or characters we don’t even know, and would have had nothing to do with on this earth? Can we stretch our brains enough to have them in the same place we are?
The modern way of selling Christianity is to make it popular, to make it fit the people who hear the message. But the message hasn’t changed in 2000 years and at some point the believer actually has to believe and act upon those beliefs. The rubber hits the road.
I’m sure that God is far more understanding than I am, or would be. Still, it’s his domain and I doubt that scheming to get your way is going to work. Sneaking a drink, or a smoke might work to relieve tension now, but the tension exists inside of us, and that way of thinking is the way of thinking we’ll have when we meet him, isn’t it? How will we react? Will we be happy there? Answer for yourself. Think about it.