Friday, February 10, 2017
Will heaven be boring?
Today a friend raised the possibility that having everything perfect in heaven might not be so pleasant. It got me thinking . . . perhaps it will become monotonous, boring, or without challenge -- kind of like a team that so easily beats every other team that the wins lose their thrill and challenge. No other team is good enough to make the game competitive or to challenge them to do their best or to become better. I'm already taking this farther than my friend's email actually suggested, but his comment really got me thinking about eternity. First, it's my understanding that the Scriptures do not teach that God's children will be in heaven forever. Heaven is a temporary stopover until Jesus makes the new heaven and earth (Revelation 21, 22). We were created for life on earth. God designed earth to be our home. Resurrection bodies aren't needed for heaven. They are intended for life on the new earth. That will be paradise restored. A return to Eden. Everything sin broke, Jesus will fix. It's chapter 4 in the BIG STORY of the Bible: creation--rebellion/ruin...redemption...restoration. Perhaps thinking a perfect eternity will become boring is the outcome of two errors: (1) the deception of Satan in the Garden when he basically told Eve, "God is putting one over on you. You won't truly be happy or reach your potential unless you rebel against God; and (2) "perfect" means mature, having reached its purpose. While we understand that to mean that in eternity sin and the curse of sin will be gone, it doesn't mean that life on the new earth will not resemble life now on the sin-ruined earth. Every good thing will continue only with the tentacles of sin removed. Life's greatest pleasures will be magnified by the absence of sin, not diminished. My friend's email raised the question that if a person always won, would winning lose it's pleasure? Part of me thinks that a person would only tire of winning if the wins were so easy as to remove the challenge or competition (boring) OR if in winning the losers were unnecessarily harmed. But maybe I'm wrong. I haven't been able to work out a "theology of competition" and can't foresee what competition might look like, if it exists, in the perfect new world. I have no doubt that there will be sports and games because I anticipate that life will look very much like now except that sin will be eliminated. I suppose it would be possible for two friends who perfectly care for each other to have a competitive one-on-one basketball game in which one won and one lost. However, there would be no jealousy or shaming or bragging. Both would celebrate the fun of the competition. Both would be able to congratulate the other on their effort and the loser would be able to congratulate and enjoy the win by his friend. Maybe that's a little like a father and son when the son finally is able to legitimately beat his father in a game of "horse." The father isn't upset, only takes pride in his son's increased ability and achievement. At least that's how a loving father would respond. I've certainly seen sinful, selfish, and insecure fathers take pleasure in crushing their son. How awful! Also, "perfect" doesn't mean that there will be no more challenges - only that sin and the curse will be absent. I believe that we will continue to experience the thrill of accomplishment, adventure, creativity, challenge, discovery, invention, etc. Imagine building a house when everyone in the construction chain (designer, contractors, lumber company, etc.) is without sin. Wow! What a house! What fun in building it! I'm inclined to think that "perfect" doesn't rule out making innocent mistakes (if accidentally trip and cause Gloria to spill her coffee, it isn't a sin), the need and enjoyment of learning new things, etc. Imagine the advances of science in a perfect world -- discovering more and more of God's creation -- exploration of the universe, the ocean floor, the microscopic world, etc. There will doubtless be new foods, new recipes, new fun activities, and constant freshness in worship with our glorious, majestic, loving God permeating, approving, and enjoying it all. Human ingenuity and creativity set free from the limitations of sin and selfishness will be fantastic -- and bring pleasure to everyone. Will "heaven" be boring? Not in the first ten trillion years or beyond! I welcome your comments and thoughts.