In recent weeks we’ve discussed the Christian belief in life after death, and Jesus’ promise that those who put their faith in God and seek to follow His commands will live forever in Heaven. However, we don’t spend too much time, if any, discussing what Heaven is like. There’s a good reason for that: the Bible is very vague about the details of Heaven.
One thing we know for sure, in Heaven the saints are not wearing white robes and playing the harp. I mean, the harp is a lovely musical instrument, as long as it accompanies the rest of the orchestra. Harp solos, on the other hand, are pretty tedious. For example, whenever Harpo played in the middle of a Marx Brothers movie, his skill with the instrument was fascinating—for about 20 seconds. Can you imagine thousands of harps, and only harps, playing together? No thanks.
The Bible gives us some cryptic clues about Heaven. Jesus said there are many dwellings in His Father’s house, and He will go and prepare a place for His followers. The old King James Version of the Bible translates this as many “mansions.” I’m not sure what the word mansion actually meant in the early 1600s, but it sounds good to me, as long as I don’t have to vacuum it.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul wrote, “Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard…what God has prepared for those who love him.”
Well, I’ve never seen or heard a thousand harps playing at the same time, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what Paul meant. Paul was trying to say that Heaven will be so wonderful, our finite little human brains can’t even begin to comprehend it. We’ll simply have to wait until we experience it to understand.
That, of course, has not stopped people from speculating on what Heaven will be like. Dr. Scott Hahn recently published a new book titled, “Hope to Die—The Christian Meaning of Death and the Resurrection of the Body.”
If you’re not familiar with Dr. Hahn, he’s the most well-known of a group of Protestant ministers who converted to Catholicism. He’s a professor at Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH, and he’s written more books about faith than the number of Red Sox hats that I own. In other words, a lot.
Anyway, in his new book, Dr. Hahn offers his vision of what Heaven will be like:
“The best dinner party or family gathering you’ve ever attended, where everyone is feasting and talking and laughing and sharing stories, has nothing on the feasting and talking and laughing and sharing stories that will take place in heaven. Our greatest experiences of love, connection, and friendship here on earth offer us only the tiniest foretaste of the love, connection, and friendship we will experience in heaven, where every story will be shared and every story will be endlessly fascinating. Every story will be beautiful and interesting and compelling and engaging. Every story will make us laugh and weep for the joy of it all. Not one story will be boring. Not one story won’t hold our attention. Not one story won’t utterly and completely captivate us.”
What a beautiful description of Heaven. If you’re like me, the most joyful and cherished moments in your life were not when you got a raise at work or bought a new car. Instead, the most joyful moments happened were when you were in the presence of dear friends, laughing and eating and telling delightful stories.
After all these years, I’ve learned a few things, and I now know the most important part of life is entering into loving relationships with other people. Everything else folks often strive for—fame, fortune, power, prestige, pleasure—take a back seat to forming loving relationships with others.
Dr. Hahn’s vision of Heaven is terrific. The most joyful moments of our earthly experience multiplied by a thousand. If that is what Heaven really is like, I won’t even mind if there are a bunch of guys playing the harp.