Heaven's Anything But Boring!
Heaven will be a lot of things — beautiful, gorgeous, magnificent, marvelous, amazing, fantastic, surprising, radiant! But boring isn't one of them! That notion is one of Satan's big lies. The Deceiver will do anything he can to discourage saints and sinners alike from becoming too enthusiastic about what God has in store for those who love him. Two tactics have proven especially effective. He paints hell as one big party and heaven as a bunch of monks standing around watching paint dry.
Revelation 21 Revelation 22 sets the record straight once and for all. Scattered throughout these two climactic chapters are an abundance of clues about the true reality of heaven. They assure us that heaven will not be boring. Anything but! Why?
Heaven will provide far too many places to explore and adventures to discover to be boring. And there will be far too much to do. I know that the common caricature of heaven is of cute little cherubs with glowing halos above their heads and discretely placed banners draped around their chubby little bodies floating on billowy clouds while serenely strumming on harps. I hope I don't burst anyone's bubbles, but that's not the Bible's version of heaven. We will have too much too do in heaven to lounge around all day on clouds.
Revelation 22:3 says, "The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him." Elsewhere John writes of the new songs that will be written and sung on the new earth (Revelation 5:9, Revelation 14:3). Jesus taught in his parables of judgment about the master who rewards his faithful servants with greater duties and larger responsibilities (Matthew 25:21, Matthew 25:23). The picture suggests a lot to do and take care of. In the parable of the pounds, the king rewards the servant who made ten pounds by placing him in authority over ten cities, and the servant who made five pounds with authority over five cities (Luke 19:17-19). Their reward consists not in idle rest but worthwhile service. Far from sitting on clouds, we will have more to do in heaven than we can possibly imagine. Does being the mayor ten cities sound boring? (Cf. An article on heaven by Anthony Hoekema in the September 20. 1985, issue of Christianity Today.)
There will be plenty to do in heaven. We will review and celebrate the victories of life on earth. We will join in the dynamic, joy-filled worship choir of the New Jerusalem. With new bodies and new voices, some of us will sing in a choir for the first time. Sorry, Sarah, but I am planning on singing lead in heaven! There will be feasts and banquets galore. Somebody will need to do the cooking and decorating. Good wholesome entertainment will abound. Gardens and orchards will need tending, but not weeding. The curse of Eden is gone forever. Work will continue but labor will cease. In the Bible's language, labor is the grunt work, the drudgery that takes time and energy but never accomplishes anything. Work makes, builds, and does things that last and matter. Vast stretches of a new earth will need exploring and mapping. A great storehouse of eternal knowledge and wisdom will be ours for the learning. Boring — not on your life!
Another factor will keep heaven from getting boring. There will be so many people to meet and so many new friendships to make. Imagine meeting all your new neighbors. The saints of old will be there — Abraham, Moses, Jonah, and Paul. On and on the list could go. Just think of all the long discussions and unanswered questions you could talk over with them. Adam, what was life in the garden like? Noah, tell us about the animals in the ark. Elijah, tell me about the fiery chariot ride or the battle with the prophets on Mt. Carmel. I would love to hear David's version of the fight with Goliath or Peter tell about walking on water or James and John's description of Pentecost. And that's just the beginning.
Imagine meeting the pioneers who planted your church or the reunion with your own departed loved ones. There's nothing boring about getting together with old friends or relatives. Imagine your great grandparents you never knew or your favorite uncle who passed away when you were a child. Or the sister, or the spouse, or even the child who preceded you into eternity. Seeing them, boring?
An unknown author wrote, "As a boy, I thought of heaven as a city with domes, spires, and beautiful streets, inhabited by angels. By and by my little brother died, and I thought of heaven much as before, but with one inhabitant that I knew. Then another died, and then some of my acquaintances, so in time I began to think of heaven as containing several people that I knew. But it was not until one of my own little children died that I began to think I had treasure in heaven myself. Afterward another went, and yet another. By that time I had so many acquaintances and children in heaven that I no more thought of it as a city merely with streets of gold but as a place full of friends. Now there are so many loved ones there I sometimes think I know more people in heaven than I do on earth." Boring? I don't think so!
But one other thing will keep heaven from becoming boring. On top of the people, the places, or the vast array of things to do, God will be there! For those who know him here and love him now, being with him could never be a waste of time or anything less than the most exciting, exhilarating experience imaginable! God's presence makes heaven, heaven!
I suppose that's really at the root of the mistaken notion that heaven might be boring. People who haven't yet gotten acquainted with God can't possibly imagine how fascinating, creative, and exciting he can be. His love is without limits. His imagination goes beyond anything that has yet crossed our minds. To know him is to love him. To love him is to want to know him more and spend forever discovering the vast richness of his blessings. That's what following Jesus is all about — beginning the never-ending adventure of discovering God. All that and heaven too!4
In Luke 23:43, Jesus declared, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise." The word Jesus used for "paradise" is paradeisos which means "a park, that is, (specifically) an Eden (place of future happiness, paradise)". Paradeisos is the Greek word taken from the Hebrew word pardes which means "a park: - forest, orchard". Jesus said, " The point is that Jesus picked and used the word for "a park." Not just any park but "the paradise of God" or park of God (Revelation 2:7) which for us will be a place of future happiness.
Jesus said, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Matthew 4:10). It’s interesting to note that Jesus did not say "praise and serve." Even the briefest examination of the word praise in the Bible quickly shows it’s a verbal thing and is for the most part singing. Worship, however, is from the heart. Worship manifests itself in praise. Serving God is worship, and Scripture is clear we will serve God in heaven. "His servants will serve Him" (Revelation 22:3).
We are unable to fully serve God in this life due to sin, but in heaven "every curse will no longer be" (Revelation 22:3). We will not be under the curse of sin any longer, so everything we do will be worship in heaven. We will never be motivated by anything other than our love for God. Everything we do will be out of our love for God, untainted by our sin nature.
So what will we do? My favorite thing is to learn. "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?" (Romans 11:34), "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). God is the "the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity" (Isaiah 57:15). God is bigger than forever, and it will take eternity "to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ" (Ephesians 3:18-19). In other words, we will never stop learning.
The two great commandments that are our job description for life, in both this world and the next, express this plan: We must love God wholly and we must love our neighbor as ourself. And in order to love we must know, get to know, as endlessly as we love endlessly. This never gets boring, even on Earth: getting to know and love more and more someone we already know and love. It is our clue and our preparation for our eternal destiny of infinite fascination.2
God’s Word says we won’t have to be in His paradise alone. "I shall fully know even as I also am fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12). This would seem to indicate that we will not only know our friends and family, we will "fully know" them. In other words, there is no need for secrets in heaven. There is nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing to hide. We will have eternity to interact with "a great multitude, which no man could number, out of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues" (Revelation 7:9). No wonder heaven will be a place of infinite learning. Just getting to know everyone will take eternity!
Any further anticipation about what we shall do in God’s eternal park, heaven, will be far surpassed when "the King shall say to those on His right hand, 'Come, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world'" (Matthew 25:34). Whatever we will be doing, we can be sure it will be wonderful beyond our imaginations!
1. You Will Have Greater Capacity for Joy
In heaven, your resurrected body will come equipped with unimaginable capacity for joy (1 Corinthians 15:42–44).
The Bible says you will have a resurrected body far better than anything you knew on earth. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, says that your body will be stronger, fuller, more spiritual, more glorious, and everlasting. Your delight, your knowledge, your intellect, and all your affections will be renewed and restored so that you might enjoy Christ with perfected bodies. Edwards states: “[Our earthly soul] had only a little spark of divine love in it, in heaven shall be, as it were, turned into a bright and ardent flame, like the sun in its fullest brightness, when it has no spot upon it.”
So far so good. An enormous amount of joy. But that still doesn’t solve the problem of complacency. Isn’t it still possible that the joy will fizzle out? Edwards, again, would say: “No way!”
2. You Will Have an Ever-Increasing Capacity for Joy
In heaven, your capacity for joy will never cease to grow.
Never. According to Edwards, you will be “enraptured with joys that are forever increasing, and yet forever full.”
Sam Storms argues that your capacity for love, knowledge, understanding, and yes, joy are “ever-expansive, progressive, incremental” (“Joy’s Eternal Increase”). Never-ending. The implications of this are staggering.
First, it pummels any idea of heaven becoming boring, static, or all-too-familiar. How can it? If your ability to enjoy God and his gifts are always expanding, your perception of heaven will always be fuller, deeper, and richer. You will never look upon the same reality twice without some new way in which to enjoy it. You will look at each day through some new lens, where you see more clearly, understand more fully, and feel more deeply the truest joy — ever-increasing, ever-full joy for all eternity.
How, you may ask, is this possible? Won’t you run out of things to enjoy after ten million years? Again, Edwards would say: “No!” Why not?
3. You Worship an Infinite God
Because God is infinite, he can be infinitely enjoyed. Jesus Christ is not concerned about running out of ways to keep up with your ever-increasing ability to enjoy him. His character is endlessly deep, unsearchable, and inexhaustible. Imagine the scope of the entire universe: trillions of shining stars, burning brighter than the sun; magnificent constellations; billions of spinning galaxies, all magnificent and vast, colorful and mysterious. Yet, they are finite. Brilliant, though they are, they fall utterly short in comparison to the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ. His love, grace, kindness, wisdom, power, and mercy each stand as never-ending, infinite universes for all your affections to delight in.
Here’s the other cool bit. If God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him, the ever-increasing enjoyment of God for all eternity will simultaneously become the ever-increasing glorification of himself. This is genius!
Now when you sing, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years,” you have no need of dread or doubt. You will not be the same person as you once were. After ten thousand years, you will look back and say, “How little I knew of him then. How much I have grown in my love for him. Yet, how much more I still have yet to know of his character!” Further up and further into it you grow!
After ten thousand years, you will look back and say, “How little I knew of him!”
C.S. Lewis once defined joy in this life as “an unsatisfied desire, more desirable than any satisfaction.” I think he’s right. God doesn’t want your hope to be in this life but in the life to come. He wants you to long for your homecoming, when you meet him face to face. When you do this, you have access to a joy “more desirable than any satisfaction” here and now. Pray, then, for an ever-increasing capacity to know and enjoy him as you long for eternity.