You probably didn’t wake up this morning with heaven on your mind. And, actually, I didn’t either. Christians, however, do think about heaven from time to time. Sometimes the hope of heaven is the only thing that takes them through a tough situation—the loss of a child or spouse, the death of a dream or a major accident or illness.
Once we start thinking seriously about heaven, we might want to ask ourselves, With the way I am right now, how well would I fit in heaven? Would I really enjoy everlasting life in God’s Holy City?
If we were going to move to a distant place, we’d want to find out all we could about what to expect when we got there. We might need to learn a different language or prepare to adopt new customs so we would fit in. In the same way, a preview of heaven can help us gear up for a smooth transition from this life to the next.
Of course, no-one knows exactly what heaven will be like, but the Bible offers several clues.
Certainly no-one can afford to take a smug attitude toward such a strong statement as, “Without holiness no-one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Since Jesus was the only flesh-and-blood Person to live without sin, everyone else, discouragingly, seems doomed by the requirement.
Fortunately, God provided a solution to this sin problem: “God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus passes on His holiness to those who accept Him as their Saviour. But that doesn’t mean shrugging off striving for high standards. It simply means that God’s grace covers the difference between our best effort and perfection.
We can practise holiness by weeding out undesirable habits, returning excess money if a store assistant makes a mistake or extending courtesy to a discourteous driver.
Developing good attitudes will contribute to holiness. Personalities sometimes clash, but you can overlook a remark that hurt your feelings. It may not have been meant to criticise at all. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Forgive a wrong. Love the unlovely.
Language that borders on profanity, off-colour remarks and careless chatter won’t exist in heaven. Neither will unkind words that hurt the feelings of others.
Wouldn’t it be awkward to try to weed out undesirable words only when we get to heaven? We can check our language now by asking ourselves if we would want Jesus to hear what we say.
What about thoughts? What if there were an open communication system that allowed others to read our thoughts? The idea is scary, but it need not be. Satan has the power to send a bad thought our way, but we can send it back to him on the run. Just say, “In the name of Jesus, get lost!” At the name of Jesus, Satan has to back off!
While nothing we can ever do will earn us a place in heaven, Jesus promised that we can lay up treasures in heaven (see Matthew 6:20). It’s possible to keep some of the things we enjoy here all of our earthly lives, but we can keep whatever we send on to heaven forever.
Wouldn’t it be sad to get to heaven and not have any possessions (“treasure”) there?
When we do something for someone else, expecting nothing in return, we add to our heavenly bank account. Here are some possibilities:
It would be great to get to heaven and hear someone say, “I’m here because you helped build that clinic in Papua New Guinea.”
We may not see the results of what we do or say on this earth, but our actions may plant seeds that will eventually take root and grow. By showing God’s love to the world, we are laying up treasures in heaven. Treasures we can keep forever.
Much of the drama in Revelation, the final book of the Bible, takes place around God’s throne as multitudes lift their voices in praise to God and Jesus. A sideline observer who could not join in the celebration would surely feel like a misfit.
This doesn’t mean we must jump up and shout, “Praise God,” when the preacher gets excited. We don’t need to copy anyone else’s form of praise. Worship may be expressed through a joyful noise, quiet reverence or any other emotion that flows from the heart. Individual ways of exalting God will add variety around heaven’s throne.
Reading the Bible is a form of worship. If a good friend or family member moved away, wouldn’t we enjoy getting letters? The Bible is composed of God’s letters to us.
Prayer should be as much about worship as it is about asking for what we want or need. Thank God for salvation and all the good things we enjoy. Instead of telling God how to solve a problem, listen for God’s answer, even if it requires us to make a change that is difficult.
Church attendance is another form of worship. If we don’t enjoy the company of other Christians here, how will we fit in with the angels of heaven? In many ways, heaven may be much like a church service here. One big difference though: no-one will have an opportunity to get right with God in heaven. Anyone who is not right with God will not get into heaven.
Don’t despair if this preview of heaven seems overwhelming. Never give up the good fight. Don’t try to put everything into practice at once. If you work on one area at a time, you will keep growing spiritually. As long as you are growing, you are right for heaven! ½