We’ve Lost Our Vocabulary of Wonder About Heaven
In 50 Days of Heaven, I write:
If we are honest, we must admit that we are not daily and consciously looking forward to Heaven, much less to a New Earth. We’ve reduced Heaven to an otherworldly state, and we’ve ignored the clear biblical promise of a redeemed universe over which we will serve as God’s delegated rulers. We’ve become blinded to the truth, and we’ve lost our vocabulary of wonder and our anticipation of the great and glorious plan that God has in store for us. Jesus said of the devil, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Some of Satan’s favorite lies are about Heaven.
A reader recently asked me, Can you elaborate on what you mean by “we’ve lost our vocabulary of wonder”?
By losing our vocabulary of wonder, I mean that we’ve come to think of Heaven as utterly immaterial and non-physical, a home suited for body-less angels, not real people. Floating in clouds while strumming harps isn’t anybody's idea of a great time. But the Heaven God promises is for human beings, who aren't just spiritual but physical too. This is why the biblical teaching of the physical resurrection and eternal life together on the New (resurrected) Earth is so critical. Nobody wants to be a ghost (if they think of it as ghostly, our children will never be excited about Heaven). We don’t get excited about a place we can't imagine.
In this life we marvel at and talk about the wondrous beauty of mountains, beaches, sunsets, lakes, and deserts. We’re amazed by the experience of snorkeling with turtles, dolphins, and manta rays over ocean reefs. We talk about the majestic power of Niagara Falls and the overwhelming magnificence of the Grand Canyon, a thunderous herd of wild horses, the migration of humpback whales, and the breathtaking rings of Saturn. These move us to awe and worship—and because we use a vocabulary of wonder that pulls us in, holds our attention, and captures our imagination, we get inspired and dream about going to beautiful places. We tell our children all about how great the place is we're taking them for vacation.
Similarly, Scripture tells us “we are looking forward to a new heavens and new earth [redeemed universe] in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). The problem is, many believers are not looking forward to a new heavens and New Earth! They imagine this present life is the real life, their only opportunity to experience everything on their bucket list, when in fact, the place Jesus is preparing for us on the New Earth will be way better than the best of this life—all the present beauty and far more, with none of the sin and suffering.
Jesus repeatedly spoke of eating and drinking together at great feasts in God's eternal kingdom, and everyone knew that feasts were full of fun and laughter and dancing. So God tells us to set our minds not primarily on this life, but on the person we were made for, Jesus, and the place we were made for: Heaven (Colossians 3:1-4). That way we get a foretaste of Heaven's glory and wonder and beauty as we live our lives today. People will see that we're different, because Jesus and His kingdom are our center of gravity.