Friday, October 30, 2015

Heaven as a place of joy and pleasure

I am still working my way through Scot McKnight's book 'The Heaven Promise.' Chapter 9 was on what he refers to as God's second promise about heaven: "Jesus Will Be Jesus."

I didn't highlight a lot in this chapter - not because it wasn't good - I guess I just didn't. At any rate, somewhat of the over-arching idea, as shared on p. 75:
"Without taking away one speck of glitter of God's glory, the Lamb becomes central to everything in Heaven. The God of Heaven is seen most clearly in the Lamb and the Lamb is a reflection of the God of Heaven. Heaven is all about God and the Lamb."

Chapter 10 is a fantastic if not somewhat provocative chapter. "The Third Promise: Heaven Will Be the Utopia of Pleasures." Scot begins with this quote from C.S. Lewis:
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world... There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else."

I love that quote.

Scot then entertains ideas of Heaven being about fulfilling our deepest desires, and a place of pleasure. On p.77 he writes, "...when we scatter our selfishness to the corners of existence, and if we are really honest, we all yearn to be fully happy. Not so much happy clappy with smiley-face tattoos, but possessing a deeply settled joy that brings peace and contentment in knowing who we are and where we fit in God's designs for the earth we inhabit... Heaven is designed for those who want this deep joy. Dare we call Heaven a place of pleasure? Absolutely."

He goes on: "If we are wired by God's design to chase happiness with all our might, and if happiness cannot be separated from pleasure, then maybe we need a conversion of our imaginations. I make this claim: all contemporary pleasures are designed by God to point us toward the final Heaven."

"God dwells in endless pleasure and happiness and in deep joy."

As Scot says, "Our desire for deep joy comes from God's deep dwelling in God's own deep joy. God is a happy God; God is full of joy; God is all pleasure and designs all pleasure. Our enjoyment of pleasure is participating in God's own pleasure."

He continues on p.78, "Life's pleasures--success at work, a good meal, a beautiful song, satisfying sex, a splendid aroma--are sacraments, yes sacraments, of the new Heavens and earth. Heaven is not designed for those who fear joy and pleasure and happiness, nor for those who deny such pleasures. Heaven is designed for those who relish pleasures and long for more."

I like the story about when Scot and his wife received a picture from the ultrasound of their first grandchild. They hung it on the refrigerator and looked at it over and over, scanning the black and white and gray for hours. However, once the grandchild was actually born... they didn't give the ultrasound picture another thought. He says, "Our pleasurable experience of God now is an ultrasound image compared to the living, interactive reality we will experience in Heaven. Our communing with God now, even in our best moments, is but a black-and-white, static image of the ecstatic union we will experience in Heaven." !!!

He sums up on p.80:
"Heaven is God's promise that, on the basis of Jesus's bodily resurrection, we will be raised to a new kind of heavenly, embodied, ecstacy-seeking life. Once we make the resurrection of Jesus central to our view of Heaven, Heaven becomes a world of intense, ecstatic, embodied entirely holy pleasure and deep joy."


This is grand stuff for me. I have never given much thought to God being "happy" or interested in "pleasure" - ours or His own. So this is a somewhat new and refreshing way for me to think of Heaven. Very nice.