This previous semester I participated in a weekly Bible study with several other guys on my floor on the topic of heaven. The overall takeaway for me ended up being a greater sense of the reality of a future new heaven and new earth. I began truly looking forward to seeing loved ones again, living life without sinning, being healthy, and having no worries. Yet, in listening to a message recently, I was struck and convicted by this truth: the reason a Christian wants to go to heaven is to be with Jesus.
I had gotten sidetracked by the “symptoms of heaven” – those things that come with our new lives, but are just side effects of the real issue. Yes, heaven will be a great place, but the reason I should want to go there is Jesus. He’s there, and while he is also with me now, in heaven I will have a truly perfect relationship with him.
Yet often when I hear people talking about heaven, I hear talk of how great it is – of how the ice cream bar will never close, of how we will fly (without airplanes), of how wonderful life will be – but little talk of being with Jesus. Why? If the reality of heaven is Jesus and the other things are just symptoms, why do we spend so much time talking about them? I think the answer is that the symptoms sell. Especially when evangelizing (but also in Christian conversation), a non-Christian can be attracted to the symptoms of heaven – it sounds great! But the reality of heaven makes no sense, it seems foolish; why would you want to be with someone when you can have any number of relationships here on earth? The somethings of heaven easily attract our attention.
Yet the truth remains that Christianity is obsessed with Jesus. And if we begin to forget that, we quickly slip into idolatry, wanting a heaven that is “Jesus-plus.” “Yes, it will be great to be with Jesus but heaven will be great because it will have Jesus plus perfect bodies.” Or “heaven is Jesus plus seeing my lost loved ones again.” Following Jesus has no place for a “Jesus-plus” perspective. Looking elsewhere means we miss the path he leads us on.
Ultimately, Jesus is not just another reason to want to go to heaven; he is the one reason. May we, by God’s grace, live lives that steer away from “Jesus-plus” and seek Jesus and Jesus alone.