The Big Living Room
Last Friday night 260+ of us from the Rochester Church went to see The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe together. Two of the ladies of the church had the idea to approach a theater, arrange for purchasing tickets, and even set up a dessert reception after the movie at the church building where the kids made crowns and shields and the parents ate and visited.
It was a strange feeling to stand near the back of a movie auditorium and see it filled with people I knew. We didn't take every seat so the theater sold the rest of them to people outside our congregation. It was fascinating to watch them come in and freeze, literally stopping dead in their tracks at the tableau before them: people going from place to place all over the auditorium hugging each other, laughing and smiling. They could tell that something very strange was going on but they had no way to absorb it, contextualize it. This was a room full of people who loved each other, who were genuinely happy to see each other, and who hurried to show grace and welcome to each other. Who were these people?
While they wrestled with that, I wrestled with something else. I couldn't make myself sit down until they dimmed the lights for the obligatory twenty minutes of previews. I was near the back and I didn't go from person to person and join in the greeting. I was too busy watching it all... in awe at this preview of heaven. "Is this what it's going to be like?" I wondered. Will it feel like this -- like a huge living room filled with your favorite people -- people who love you and like you and want to be with you?
We don't talk much about heaven and, perhaps, even less about hell. Why? Perhaps we have swung far, far away from the other extreme where we talked about God making it all right "bye and bye" and did nothing to stop racism, poverty, domestic violence, etc. We counseled battered women to hang in there because God would make it up to them in heaven (I am not making this up -- I heard it many times). It seems that we finally realized that Christ wanted us to live righteous lives NOW so we got about to what CS Lewis would have called "the business of heaven."
Have we gone so far in the other direction that we no longer long for heaven? Is it a lack of teaching? Is it that we have so much stuff that we are comfortable HERE and no longer looking for a THERE?
I don't know. But I DO know this: after seeing that group of happy, loving people last Friday, I can't wait to run into heaven's living room and spending eternity with them. Come Lord Jesus.