It was unimaginable, indescribable, and far more beautiful than her own human mind could have fathomed before. A new day was dawning, a new joy had come, a new creation was here.
To follow of from Part Two of this little blog series, ‘Glorious Ruins’, perhaps the most inspiring talk throughout the ‘Mission and the Whole Person’ tract at ‘Forum’ was the one that focused upon heaven, upon the idea of a new creation and the joy of reuniting with our creator in heaven. In this final talk we reminded of what it meant to be to be part of ‘God’s kingdom’, to be part of ‘God’s people’. We were challenged as to whether heaven excites us, as to whether the truth of eternal life changes how we live today. And if we recognised the scale of what a new creation means, this joy would define us, because it truly is amazing.
When the bible talks of heaven, it speaks of restoration. It does not point to destruction, but to the redeeming of chaos and mess, to the rebuilding of ruins, to the mending of something broken, and of liberation and being set free. This is the beautiful truth of heaven, of the new creation. The opening lyrics of the song ‘There is a Day’ illustrates this significantly to me:
There is a day
That all creation’s waiting for,
A day of freedom and liberation for the earth.
And on that day
The Lord will come to meet His bride,
And when we see Him
In an instant we’ll be changed
This song, to me, expresses how creation is longing for, groaning for restoration, how the very suffering and dissatisfaction of this world reflects the need for things to be returned to how they were meant to be. When Jesus died on the cross, he took on the sin, the suffering, the pain of the world. And when he rose again, he rose having defeated sin, having overcome death itself. Jesus’ old body was transformed in his resurrection, and so will the world be.
The song speaks of freedom, pointing towards how it is in the new creation that we will be truly freed for the chains of sin, from the shackles of pain, that in being reunited with our creator, we will face the consequences of our rejection no more. The songs speaks of how we will be changed, restored to people of heaven in companionship with God.
Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21.4
And in Revelation 21:24 we are shown that nothing good will be lost. The doctrine of new creation says that this creation is good, but the best is yet to come. And perhaps this gives us the opportunity to sacrifice the things we enjoy for the sake of others and for the sake of Jesus, because the best is yet to come. And yet somehow I find this so hard, somehow I am so distracted by the present, by the near future, that I forget the far future. And yet it is in the far future that I have security, assurance, because Jesus has given freely to me the opportunity for eternal life with him, if only I trust in him. We may enjoy the good gifts with open hands, with willingness to sacrifice if we need to. Is that really so much to ask, after the sacrifice that Jesus made for us?
The speaker talked of how other religious treat this life as an audition, a test to see whether we can work hard enough, whether we can attain righteousness, perfection ourselves. He showed how, instead, Christianity sees this life more as a rehearsal than an audition. A place in which we can be sure of our place in the actual show because it has already been given to us, a place in which we can enjoy creation for the glory of God, showing others how wonderful the show will be that is to come.
And yet more beautiful, heaven is described in Narnia book series not as side note, a vague future possibility, but instead, ‘the beginning of the real story’.
And as to what heaven will be like, beyond our imagination I believe, perhaps an extract from the end of Narnia can give us just something of the understanding of the amazing truth of the new creation…
It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time there were somehow different — deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know.
The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can’t describe it any better than that: if ever you get there you will know what I mean.
It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right forehoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried:
“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!”