Posted by: 15shekels | October 4, 2009

If you could have heaven…

Sunset1“The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?” – John Piper, God is the Gospel, page 15. Referenced in Francis Chan’s Crazy Love, page 100.

“‘The most important [commandment]’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: … Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'” Mark 12:29-30

It just sounds like too much work, doesn’t it?

Really?‘ —We grumble in the honest part of our hearts— ‘We not only have to decide to follow God, but we have to actually love him more than anything else?’ I can’t even see Him, how on earth can I love Him passionately?

It seems like it would be easier to just receive a list of rules. God, tell us what we can and can’t do. Tell us where that line is—you know the one—the line that if we cross it, we aren’t being good Christians, good witnesses. Tell us how much fun we are allowed to have down here, and then please just leave us alone.

boss_cartoonFrancis Chan captures this frustration in his book “Crazy Love” when he describes his early view of God: “I had no aspiration of being wanted by God; I was just happy not to be hated or hurt by Him.” (Page 55). When we have this view of God, we are treating Him like a powerful and feared boss. Of course dealing with Him feels like work.

This attitude arises when we view our conversion as a transaction, instead of as the beginning of a relationship. We admit that we can’t get to heaven on our own, we admit that we need Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and so we make the transaction—God, I admit that I am a sinner. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sins. I accept what He did on the cross. I guess you’re my boss now. It seems like a fair trade—We get to go to heaven, but we have to let God take charge.

But God isn’t a tyrannical boss. And he doesn’t ask for our obedience and devotion as a punishment or price for salvation. Instead, God is the parent who sees that His beloved but stupid and reckless child has walked into the path of a bus. He jumps in front of the bus to save his child, out of love. He doesn’t rescue his child so he can bully him — You’d be dead without me, you better listen to me. You better love me. Instead he desires a close relationship with his child. And of course he wants his child to grow and cease his destructive behavior. But above all else, he loves him. Jesus died on the cross to repair what we have broken—to restore our relationship with God, who loves us more than we can ever understand and wants us with him.

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” -Psalm 36:7-9

But what about when we do realize the nature of this love, and we do recognize why we should love God, but it still doesn’t come naturally?

The truth is, we should love God for many reasons—He created the world and everything in it; he is eternal, perfect, all-powerful, more glorious and beautiful than anything on earth. Most importantly, we should love God because we were created to love and serve Him. Long before God decided to show us mercy or save us from death, He was worthy of our love.

Cross Of Christ

But He went further than that. He knew that we would not succeed in upholding that greatest commandment. He knew that we would be miserable failures when it came to loving Him. And so Jesus died not only to forgive us for lying, cheating and hurting others. He also died to forgive us for breaking that greatest commandment. When Jesus died, He sent us the message that He would love us enough for both of us. If we surrender to Him and let Him.

Furthermore, when we let Christ in, a few great things happen. First, we receive the Holy Spirit—God dwelling in us, speaking truth, wisdom and love into our hearts. Nothing transforms us like He does. Secondly, the more we encounter God in prayer, fellowship, and reading his Word, the more we glimpse of his glorious (lovable is an understatement) character. Thirdly, little by little, as we let God in, we begin to realize that God wants us with Him for our own good. Cut off from Him, we wither and die. And when it comes to heaven, well, we realize that God doesn’t just want us with Him so that we can enjoy heaven. He wants us with Him because He knows that He is the “fountain of life” and the source of joy.

And so back to that ultimate question—could you be happy in heaven without God? But now we see that it’s a self-defeating question. Heaven isn’t just a place where God happens to live. Heaven is dwelling with God. And the more time we spend with Him, the brighter that truth will shine.

So no, you won’t ever love Him enough. But give Him a shot at loving enough for both of you, and see what happens.



  1. Your blog site is a blessing to me. You have deep insight, and at the sametime you are able to ariticulate it well. The story of Hosea and Gomer is one of my favorites. I just spoke a message on that scripture a few weeks ago at my church. I will follow your blog from time to time. Blessings!

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