January’s Faith & Values guest column caught the attention of our neighborhood Bible study group. One of us is a farmer’s wife close to Deer Park, and the article gave an account of the funeral of a local farmer.
The author’s wishful desire for life ever after, but thinking it couldn’t possibly be true, saddened us. Scripture has numerous external and internal verifications which support its divine origin and its trustworthiness.
It’s that longing for “heaven” which C.S. Lewis wrote about in “Mere Christianity”: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Instinctively, we recognize beauty when we see it. The plunging waterfall, the rose-tinted mountain vista, the last strains of lovely music stir something deep within us and cause us to want more.
The recent 3-D fantasy movie “Avatar” tapped into that desire. It left some fans longing for the computer-generated paradise of Pandora.
A fan website has a link to “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible.” A sample posting read, “ I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened … and the shivers I got from it.”
Yet what is depicted in the film starts with a world with which we’re familiar. Perhaps these wistful longings aren’t rooted in the loveliness of this world, but from a realization that there’s something wrong with it.
The spoiling we observe frequently seems caused by humans, who can be selfish, manipulative, jealous, greedy, even cruel.
If I’m honest, I’ll begrudgingly admit even I’m self-centered, unkind, impatient, rude at times. There’s a problem with me, even though I prefer to think quite well of myself and bristle at any criticism.
Here’s where Scripture enters as a bright light on a dark place. It has a logical worldview that deals with a real problem in a decisive way by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said that we all have a problem; no one’s exempt. We were created by God to have and enjoy a relationship with him.
We don’t have that relationship because we ignore our maker and live life on our own terms. Because we’re hopelessly selfish, it doesn’t work well. We hurt others, and others hurt us.
Jesus claimed to be fully God who clothed himself in flesh to become fully man. He was announced by John the Baptist as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Jesus introduced himself in an unusual way: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. … My witness is true.”
He followed that with an unusual warning, “You will die in your sins, if you do not believe that I am He.” (John 6)
The historical Jesus said he was on a rescue mission with the power and authority to deal with what’s wrong with mankind. This requires humility on our part to admit there really is a problem with us in order to repent and believe that Jesus can forgive us.
Jesus backed up his fantastic claims by pointing to what prophets predicted about him many years before: the perfect life he lived, the miracles of kindness he performed, and especially his eye-witnessed resurrection from the dead.
What we long for Jesus alone can provide. Thousands around the world can attest that their lives have been dramatically transformed by Jesus.
The Bible speaks about Heaven as a fully restored relationship with our Maker in an unspoiled place described as a “New Earth.”
It won’t be foreign or weird – it will be everything and more than we ever yearned for in this life, purchased at the expense of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and God’s love and concern for us.