1 Corinthians 15:51-52 – Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
One of the great weaknesses in our churches today is a lack of true heavenly focus. While many of us still sing hymns or gospel songs that speak of heaven, few of us actually focus on the glory that is to come. Those who sing of heaven are far too often focused on the secondary amenities of heaven—a mansion, streets of gold, gates of pearl, seeing long lost relatives—without truly recognizing the greatness of heaven.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is calling the Corinthians to hope. It is not a hope that things in this life are going to get better and better. He is not calling them to live out a gospel of happiness, health, wealth, and prosperity. Instead, Paul calls them to recognize that, because Jesus has been raised from the dead, we have the hope, the sure promise, that we too will be raised from the dead with him. Paul wants us to remember that, though our bodies get weak and die, they will be changed, instantly, to bodies that do not die, that do not wear out, and that will last forever in the holy presence of God. Paul focuses us on heaven, the real heaven. He does not pretend that we all wear halos and angel wings while playing little harps on Hallelujah Boulevard. Instead, Paul points us to the great and glorious hope of being made new by God that we might live in the presence of God for eternity.
When is the last time you thought of heaven? Were your thoughts of heaven true thoughts? What excited you most about heaven? Were you focused on seeing long dead relatives? Were you wondering if there are golf courses in heaven? Were you looking forward to golden streets? If so, I fear that you were looking too small. You were looking at the window dressing without seeing what really matters. In heaven, we will live, truly eternally live, in the presence of our Lord. We will have our souls truly satisfied and our hearts truly comforted. The comfort of heaven will far outweigh all the pain and suffering that any of us face in this lifetime. That is the picture of heaven that God wants us to have, and it is worthy of much thought and of hopeful, God-centered songs.
Lord, I thank you for heaven. I thank you that I have a promise set before me of a life the glory of which will far outweigh all earthly suffering. I thank you that you will change my body with its flaws and failings to a heavenly, immortal body that will live in your presence for eternity. I thank you for the beauties of heaven. I thank you for the joys to come. I thank you that I will experience wonderful things. But most of all, I thank you that in heaven, I will experience the true satisfaction of beholding your glory forever. Help me, Lord, to remember this picture of heaven. Help me to live in the light of eternity every day.