Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov said, “I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.”
Sadly, even among Christians, it’s a prevalent myth that Heaven will be boring. Sometimes we can’t envision anything beyond strumming a harp and polishing streets of gold. We’ve succumbed to Satan’s strategies “to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place” (Revelation 13:6).
People sometimes say, “I’d rather be having a good time in Hell than be bored out of my mind in Heaven.” Many imagine Hell as a place where they’ll hang around and shoot pool and joke with friends. That could happen on the New Earth, but not in Hell.
Hell is a place of torment and isolation, where friendship and good times don’t exist. Hell will be deathly boring. Everything good, enjoyable, refreshing, fascinating, and interesting originates with God. Without God, there’s nothing interesting to do. David wrote, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, NKJV). Conversely, outside of God’s presence, there is no joy.
Our belief that Heaven will be boring betrays a heresy—that God is boring. There’s no greater nonsense. What’s true is that our desire for pleasure and the experience of joy come directly from God’s hand. God designed and gave us our taste buds, adrenaline, sex drives, and the nerve endings that convey pleasure to our brains. Likewise, our imaginations and our capacity for joy and exhilaration were made by the very God we accuse of being boring! Do we imagine that we ourselves came up with the idea of fun?
“Won’t it be boring to be good all the time?” Note the underlying assumption: Sin is exciting, righteousness is boring. We’ve fallen for the devil’s lie. His most basic strategy, the same one he employed with Adam and Eve, is to make us believe that sin brings fulfillment. But the opposite is true. Sin robs us of fulfillment. Sin doesn’t make life interesting; it makes life empty. Sin doesn’t create adventure; it blunts it. Sin doesn’t expand life; it shrinks it. Sin’s emptiness inevitably leads to boredom. When there’s fulfillment, when there’s beauty, when we see God as He truly is—an endless reservoir of fascination—boredom becomes impossible.
Those who believe there can’t be excitement without sin think with sin-poisoned minds. Drug addicts are convinced that without their drugs they can’t live happy lives. In fact—as everyone else can see—drugs make them miserable. Freedom from sin will mean freedom to be what God intended, freedom to find far greater joy in everything. In Heaven we’ll be filled, as Psalm 16:11 describes it, with joy and eternal pleasures.
Another reason why people assume Heaven is boring is that their Christian lives are boring. That’s not God’s fault. He calls us to follow Him in an adventure that should put us on life’s edge. If we’re experiencing the invigorating stirrings of God’s Spirit, trusting Him to fill our lives with divine appointments, and experiencing the childlike delights of His gracious daily kindnesses, then we’ll know that God is exciting and Heaven is exhilarating. What else could they be?
As for having nothing to do in Heaven, we’re going to help God run the universe (Luke 19:11-27). We’ll have an eternity full of things to do. The Bible’s picture of resurrected people at work in a vibrant society on a resurrected earth couldn’t be more compelling. (No wonder Satan works so hard to rob us of it.)
God will give us renewed minds and marvelously constructed bodies, full of energy and vision. James Campbell says, “The work on the other side, whatever be its character, will be adapted to each one’s special aptitude and powers. It will be the work he can do best; the work that will give the fullest play to all that is within him.”[i]
Even under the Curse, we catch glimpses of how work can be enriching, how it can build relationships, and how it can help us to improve ourselves and our world. Work stretches us in ways that make us smarter, wiser, and more fulfilled.
The God who created us to do good works (Ephesians 2:10) will not abandon this purpose when He resurrects us to inhabit the new universe.
We are told that we will serve God in Heaven (Revelation 7:15; 22:3). Service is active, not passive. It involves fulfilling responsibilities, in which we expend energy. Work in Heaven won’t be frustrating or fruitless; it will involve lasting accomplishments, unhindered by decay and fatigue, and enhanced by unlimited resources. We’ll approach our work in Heaven with the same enthusiasm we now bring to our favorite sports or hobbies.
In Heaven, we’ll reign with Christ, exercise leadership and authority, and make important decisions. This implies specific delegated responsibilities for those under our leadership, as well as specific responsibilities given to us by our leaders (Luke 19:17-19). We’ll set goals, devise plans, and share ideas. Our best workday on Earth—when everything turns out better than we planned, when we get everything done on time, when everyone on the team pulls together and enjoys each other—is just a small foretaste of the joy our work will bring us on the New Earth.
If you think that life in God’s new universe will be boring, you’re just not getting it. Imagine the flowers that botanists will study (and enjoy), the animals that zoologists will research (and play with). Gifted astronomers may go from star system to star system, galaxy to galaxy, studying the wonders of God’s creation. A disembodied existence would be boring, but our resurrection to bodily life on the New Earth will forever put boredom to death.
Excerpted from 50 Days of Heaven: Reflections That Bring Eternity to Light. See also the comprehensive book Heaven.
Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash
[i] James M. Campbell, Heaven Opened: A Book of Comfort and Hope (New York: Revell, 1924), 123.
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.