by J. Edwards
Heaven is indescribable in terms of what it must be like to be there, and the reason for that is not difficult to understand. First, however, we must define how life exists on Earth.
Albert Einstein described the Universe as existing in space-time. So, we are all confined to live in three-dimensional space and to move together along the same time line. So, for example, if I want to get from London to Edinburgh, it will take me, by road, seven and three-quarter hours to travel the 403 miles via the M1 and A1.
Distance and time are constraining factors controlling all our lives; people who have relatives living in Australia, for example, have to make a huge commitment to take the time and make the journey to see them.
Now, given what we understand about God, as Supreme Being, and knowing that Heaven is defined as the place where God is, how does space-time connect with this? In the New Testament, particularly, for example in the book of Revelation, people who dwell in Heaven are believed to live in space-time just as we do. And the Lord of all being is depicted as being enthroned, in one place at one time.
Now the problem with all this is that it does not match up with what we know about God. For it’s impossible to believe that God is constrained in terms of distance and time as we are. This is clear from the resurrection appearances of Jesus in the Gospels, when he enters into the upper room through a locked door, and can come and go at will.
The conclusion has to be that our existence in Heaven is not bounded by space-time. Because God is in all places within and beyond the universe at any one time, then so are all the inhabitants of Heaven. It’s hard even to define, because place and time have no meaning in eternity.
So now we see that heaven is indescribable in terms that we can understand. How can we exist in a body that does not breathe and that does not move through space and time? How can there be music in Heaven, if there is no time?
On a positive note, it is clear that each person in heaven is in constantly, continuously, in communication with God and with every other person in heaven, always.
For me, this is what brings the Church’s teaching on the communion of saints to life. For they are all with God, and because God is near, they too are near to us all. The Church in Heaven and the Church on Earth is thus one Church of God.
And don’t imagine that those who have departed this life have suffered loss. Don’t feel sorry for people, who you may think never saw their grandchildren. For it is impossible for these people of God to suffer loss of any kind as for them, every loss is more than made up, every hurt is healed and every sorrow turned to joy by the very presence of God in whom they now live.
We may not be able to describe Heaven, but we can rejoice in the reality of our life in Christ, which we are already embarked upon, a journey along which we travel until we arrive in that place where we too will discover a new reality, new life, joy and love, beyond anything we could imagine here on Earth.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon