When I was a kid I understood heaven as sitting on a cloud listening to an eternal harp concert. I wasn’t sure if it would be me who sat there or just some ghostly version of myself. I would have rather played Lego, won sports, or eaten mom’s home cooking than listen to harps. It’s better than hell but is that really worth all we have to do here?
Unless we have a proper vision of heaven, nothing here makes sense. Today false visions of heaven abound among those who call themselves Christians and often Catholics. Many have a vision like I did but there are several other visions that are equally dangerous. Underlying many of these visions is the false idea that we’ll be up in heave as separated souls forever.
Old paintings make heaven seem like a huge diplomatic proceeding: saints and angels all gather round the majestic throne of God in a perfect harmony. Heaven is perfect harmony. However, this like my childhood vision, misses the fact that we are united with God in heaven. It is not so much a stadium or formal banquet but a family.
Another false vision is the staircase. As though once we are dead n in heaven, we have to work and climb. The staircase is a good image for purgatory – we’re dead but we need to purify ourselves for heaven.
Heaven is sometimes seen as a beautiful but empty landscape. The type that takes your breath away. There is immense beauty in heaven but the first beauty is not the landscape but the people, and the greatest beauty is the three persons of the Trinity.
One motivation poster states “In Heaven all the interesting people are missing.” That is the furthest thing from the truth that could exist. Only interesting people make it. sin is bland but holiness has a million flavors.
Finally we get to an error that underlies many errors about heaven: we are permanently separated souls. That wouldn’t be good. Who wants to spend all eternity as only part of a person. We want our bodies back. When Christ comes again, we get them back, glorified.
Every Sunday we profess two lines about our future life without saying “heaven”: “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” In the 1st heaven we are united with God in spirit but not body, because we lack one temporarily but after we are united with him both body and spirit. Our body is good; we will not want to leave it behind for heaven but we know we’ll get it back as the “New and Improved” version. We rise as he did on Easter. We will live there forever. It will be like all the best pleasures we have here: sports, food, friendship, love, etc. all at once in ever minute. That is what teens need to know about heaven. We look forward to the resurrection. That is the best and final reward.