How’s it going to work when we get to heaven?
Will we be changed in an instant? Will I be entirely different in the first millisecond I’m there? Will all the vices I’ve chased in this life simply vanish from my person and my personality, never to desire them again? Will we be made perfect, instantaneously and forever?
Or will we come as we are by the grace of God, face-to-face with heaven, and be left to make our own adjustments to its reality? Will there still be change beyond that first millisecond? Will there still be growth?
“This is heaven,” perhaps we’ll hear, “and your lust can’t be here. Your greed. Your sloth. Your pride. But something much better is waiting for you. Come and learn. You’ve got trillions of years.”
What if when we get there, instead of being greeted by friends and family long gone, God decides the best way to teach us this better way is to plop us down at a table of multi-colored strangers, our only connection this common grace? What if at first it’s not the people we hoped we’d see but the people we thought we wouldn’t? Or perhaps the people we just didn’t think about at all?
Maybe in heaven we still learn to swim by just being thrown in the pool.
On Sunday we had a family become members of our church. There are questions we ask upon such an occasion, and two of them are what you’d expect: variations on repentance of sin and profession of faith in Jesus Christ. But in our church, there is a third: “Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?”
I’ve seen many of my United Methodist friends and colleagues find solace in this question the past few days. It means saying yes to being part of a church – ours and so many others – is more than just agreeing with doctrine. It is believing we are free, and powerfully so. And it is believing this freedom and power are not without purpose.
The question acknowledges evil, injustice, and oppression can come in many forms, and so too must our resistance. But in any form, two things must remain constant. We have to pray, without believing it is all we can do. And we have to act, without forgetting that same common grace.