Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Diversity of Heaven

I have started off the New Year with a regained desire to read. I am presently reading my forth book of the year, Letters To Malcolm by C.S. Lewis.  In it he writes a most interesting sentence.

“If grace perfects nature it must expand all our natures into the full richness of the diversity which God intended when He made them, and Heaven will display far more variety than Hell.” 

This concept is not new to me, but I am always excited when I can borrow the eloquence of Lewis. 

It is common to point out the uniformity and lack of diversity and creativity that exists within many institutionalized religions. Christianity is no exception.  It would seem that as soon as belief becomes a religion all diversity is sucked right out of it.

In some circles I find it rare to find a person who beats to a different drum. Even when I find them, I usually find them to be the ostracized one.  The misfit, the outcast, the one that is quite uncomfortable around those considered “normal” or “popular.” Even though they have this insatiable desire to be themselves, they feel they haven’t the permission from others to be thus. This is sad.  Conformity is often expected over diversity. 

This kind of social behavior is the story of many movies set in a school campus such as Never Been Kissed, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or Mean Girls. Just the same, it is far too common inside one’s local church. 

Even our concept of heaven is often one of multitudes of believers dressed in fancy white robes singing the same wondrous chorus in praise before the throne of God. We seem inept to think outside of pristine uniformity.

If it is true then that the reality of heaven ought to be far more diverse than the realm of darkness, why is this not reflected in the Church to a visible degree?  I do know of ministries, churches, artist, musicians, and other individuals where a diverse creative flavor is continually produced.  But it is still at a level of being the exception rather than the rule. 

One reason, which may account for the lack of diversity, is that believers are often of the persuasion that they are earth bound and heaven hopeful.  By this, I mean, we often purport that we will go to heaven when we die, but haven’t much concept of presently living from the reality of heaven.  We put into the afterlife much of what is intended for the present life, to such an extent that we cannot see heaven without looking through earthly bound eyes.  Instead Jesus called us to see earth with heaven’s eyes.  We have the whole thing reversed.  Our template has not been the creativity of heaven, but the predictability of a fallen earth. 

We have turned the truth of God into a religion of man that filters that truth through our earthly perspectives instead of receiving the truth and the perspective of heaven.  As a result we are very boring, mundane, conformed, and unified without real unity.  We unify around doctrines and practices instead of around Jesus.  With Jesus at the center there is much room for diversity, but with doctrines at the center there is only room for conformity. 

If a person’s relationship with another person was based on believing a list of facts about them rather than knowing them by experience, the relationship would be stagnant and old.  It would be based on fact-knowledge rather than experienced-knowing; the former being stationary and the latter being ever growing and expanding. 

We can see that God is creative. I find it fascinating that Revelation mentions creatures in heaven that are unlike anything on this earth.  If God is a Creator God then those who claim to know Him and have Him living inside them, should be very creative people.  They should be originally themselves copying not their friends, family, church, or pastor, but the Lord Himself. We become more and more who we are without fear or wounds keeping us from being that person as we get closer to Jesus.  As He conforms us to the image of Himself, we become more like ourselves than ever before and less like anyone else.  That is the beauty of the diversity of heaven.