Why Should I Care About Heaven?

by Reggie Austin
My father wasn’t a big part of my life, so my maternal grandfather was probably the biggest male influence for me growing up. Even though he lived in Jamaica and I lived in America and I only really saw him maybe once every other year, he still meant the world to me. I wanted to emulate him as a husband. (For years, I wasn’t sure what my grandmother’s first name was. All I ever heard him call her was “Dear.”) He was gentle and kind. My son’s middle name honors his first, George. He’s all I could ever have asked for in a grandfather. So, his death hit me pretty hard. But kneeling at his graveside, between sobs, I placed my hand on the freshly poured earth that covered his body and said these four words aloud: “I’ll see you later.”

Where do I get off saying something like that? That’s a pretty bold claim. Aren’t those just empty words spoken in grief to make myself feel better? The Word of God assures us they're not.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (I Thessalonians 4:13) We all grieve death, but Christians do it differently. The real-life bodily resurrection of Jesus changes everything. Among many other things, it is a foretaste of what is to come for those who trust in Him. As Paul says in I Corinthians, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” Our hope is not in this life only. Because of the resurrection, we have the sure promise of eternal life in heaven with Jesus.

The reality of heaven is an incalculable comfort to hearts worn with grief. But is that all heaven is meant to be for us now, as we deal with the passing of loved ones and wait for our own certain demise? And what is heaven actually like? What should we expect from it? And what does heaven have to do with life now? For a discussion of these questions and more, listen to the audio from our summer seminar The Reality of Heaven, where we explored what heaven actually is and how it should impact the life of a Christian now, on this side of glory.
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