I believe in heaven. And I bet you do.
Heaven is located somewhere across the bridge of life. It is a place devoid of the iniquities of this life. In heaven, tranquility abounds. It is a treasure trove where God keeps the best of everything.
All our pursuits in life can be divided into two: the pursuit of heaven and the pursuit of happiness.
Heaven is the only place where happiness is guaranteed. But for some reason, we are determined to pursue happiness here on earth when it has been proven that such is an impossible goal.
We dream of heaven when we face the travails of life on earth. We remember heaven when we lose someone we love. We embrace heaven when we face our own mortality.
Though the vision of heaven varies depending on our religious and cultural upbringing, the central ideas are the same. Heaven is a good place for good people who have a good report card from their stay on earth. We are expected to make sacrifices here on earth in order to get to heaven.
I recently lost a distant cousin. He died a heart-breaking death at a young age. He was such a nice guy that tributes came from far and wide. Everyone agreed he had gone to the bosom of the Lord to rest. One grief-sicken mourner wrote on Facebook, “Stay thee with the Lord, Tony, until we meet again – though not so soon.”
Yeah, even an assurance of a place in the bosom of the Lord will not make us leave, so soon, this world that we know.
I’m not a pastor. I do not play one in Nollywood. But I can use one simple example in the Christian religion to illustrate what I mean when I say that for us all, heaven can wait.
The Bible is ambiguous about who goes to heaven. It says that it is not those who cry my Lord, my Lord that will make it to heaven; but those who do what God wants. What does God want? Apart from the obedience to the commandments, what does God want?
Well, His son, Jesus Christ, in the only prayer He taught says, He wants us to forgive others. “Forgive us our trespasses,” he says, “as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
I consider that a very dangerous prayer. By saying it, you are agreeing to be forgiven of your trespasses only when you forgive those who trespass against you.
So if you do not forgive those who trespass against you, there is no forgiveness for you.
You would think that with that, Christians would have forgiving hearts. But churches are full of men and women who carry decade old grudges yet, are hoping for forgiveness.
As if to buttress that point, the Christ stated that if you were at the door of the church with your thanksgiving offering and remember that you have not forgiven your brother or sister, you should drop your offering by the door. Christ asked that you should go and forgive your fellow human before you come to offer your thanks. If not your offerings will be a waste.
Pretty serious stuff, if you ask me.
We know all this. But we just cannot help it. Deep inside us, heaven can wait.
The call to be human is one heck of a call. We answer the call without a clear understanding of where we came from and where we are headed.
What am I saying? We are going to heaven.
To be exact, we hope to go to heaven. After all, heaven is not just God’s abode. It is a place where comfort is assured after the troubles of this life.
Because of that, a great many ideals of this life are designed to get us to heaven. Laws about goodness and evil are designed to take us to the place where good people go as a reward.
We do not know when we shall be called to heaven. Whenever it happens, there is no way of knowing for sure that we shall be worthy of heaven. Only by His grace, the holy book says.
I, therefore, presume that the first question you will be asked in heaven is, did you ever live as if heaven can wait?
The only reason we do not commit every day of our lives to the pursuit of heaven is because of the other competing goal – the pursuit of happiness.
“We are all prompted by the same motives,” Samuel Johnson, the English writer noted. “All deceived by the same fallacies, all animated by hope, obstructed by danger, entangled by desire and seduced by pleasure.”
After looking at man and his environment, Thomas Jefferson, concluded that man has these inalienable rights- the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Together, the pursuit of these rights has overshadowed the pursuit of heaven.
Our attitude seems to be; let us enjoy ourselves now. Let us take care of this business of life first. Let us secure our life, liberty and happiness.
We pretend that heaven can wait, even when we know that it cannot.