There are many pictures of [Heaven] which imaginative church leadership might describe in sermon and song—some of these are even supported by scripture. …streets of gold [Revelation 21:21], mansions [John 14:1], a palatial and lavish table spread as a marriage feast [Revelation 19:9] for innumerable guests all wearing white [Revelation 6:11] and drinking a divine vintage [Mark 14:25]. And no one sees a time piece anywhere, neither is there any concern about time since there is no setting sun [Revelation 22:5]—the most definitive sign that we have entered eternity. A crowd gathers, an excited assembly, a worship service, a saintly choir with an angelic accompaniment [Revelation 5:9; 7:9]. In perfect unity they raise one voice to sing a new song. Perhaps, after the meal?
But these acts describe the appearance of things, a glorified body in the tireless ebullience of an eternal youthfulness, but do not envision what changes might be occasioned in the heart that might make this all possible.
We shall know then [I John 3:2] more completely the unity that the Trinity shares [John 17:22]. We have enjoyed here but a taste of the “love” that defines God Himself [I John 4:8] that will define our relationships then. Sorrow, grief, and fear will then no longer challenge our happiness [Revelation 21:4].
In this life our happiness is tied to living within the wisdom of Jesus’ sermon on the mount. Here is profound insight into our current reality that will be exchanged for that heavenly reality. Our worldview which explains suffering will be laid aside for a heaven-view without suffering. The beatitudes [Matthew 5:3-12] encapsulate sources of happiness now which will be exchanged then for an eternal joy:
- Now, our happiness is tied to our relinquishing everything we have and are for His service, which Jesus goes on to explain, includes a few tears. We will then exchange this all for a tear-free inheritance in the Kingdom of God [Matthew 5:3].
- Now we mourn as an expression of a deeply meaningful prayer life—essential to our happiness here, which we will exchange then for an eternal comfort [Matthew 5:4].
- Now our happiness is tied to a passionate desire to sacrifice all to follow Him. We will someday inherit all things that now we have surrendered in His name [Matthew 5:5].
- Now nothing gives us more joy than by faith to know Him and share in His calling [Philippians 3:10]. Then we shall know the happiness of being forever with Him [Matthew 5:6].
- Now, our happiness is tied to giving, not receiving, but then we will be the beneficiaries [Matthew 5:7].
- Now we eschew evil. We joyfully stand tall in the winds of trials that blow [Ephesians 6:14], but then, our lives will be defined by a happiness free from trials [Matthew 5:8].
- Now we seek peace and reconciliation and forgiveness, the forerunners of all happiness here. But then, we shall share in the peaceful unity of God’s family [Matthew 5:9].
- We rejoice now to share in His sufferings [Philippians 3:10] in our world. Then our happiness will be complete when we are welcomed into His [Matthew 5:10-12].
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:21
Our happiness now, in short, is tied to this world’s experience, to a worldview that makes sense to us in terms of the joy of our salvation, that includes the trials and sufferings of this life. We have learned to sing in prison [Acts 16:25]. Our happiness then will be tied not to a worldview that must include all things that oppose our serving God. Our happiness then will be a worship experience unleashed, unhindered, unchallenged. [Psalms 115:18].
Oh! The discourse of men can’t explain this!
What assurance of infinite grace!
Words tied to this life can’t make plain this
Gloriously incomprehensible place!
We use our words in picturesque ways to dream of such happiness with only glimpses of this heaven in those few moments when love seems purest, joy near overwhelming, or those moments during worship when our unity is characterized by an unconditional acceptance of each other that is blind to race, ethnicity, gender, class [Galatians 3:28], for that matter, any condition real or imagined that might separate us.
Our worship of God is the key to our happiness. We get but a glimpse here of what will be a way of life there. Our worshipping God is a complete expression of who we are. Worshipping God is the ultimate expression of our unity in which each believer finds self-expression and complete self-fulfillment. Acting in God’s interests serves our own. Heaven becomes the place where our interest is to serve Him.
Our relationship with God in His world is more than symbiotic. We do not do for God so He will do for us. Worship then will be as natural and as “us” as breathing is now. It might be best explained in 7 words:
Acting in God’s interests serves our own.
Our happiness feeds off worshipping God. In heaven love will be mutual, shared—no longer misunderstood, no longer expressed with faulty or clumsy miscues, no longer unrequited. Zephaniah was given a glimpse of our coming happiness….
Zephaniah 3:13; 19-20
No violence rages in their eyes
And no deceit upon their tongue
No more guile and no more lies.
A song of praise and worship sung.
Like precious lambs in pastures graze
Which lie contented all their days
No longer will they be dismayed
In safety they are unafraid.
His word fulfilled for all who roam
To gather them and bring them home.
All peoples, let us praise our Lord
For freedom now has been restored.