Saturday, April 15, 2017

Teaching Our Kids About Heaven

It is exciting to teach others about Jesus’ resurrection – and the resurrection of the saints! I love sharing the story found in Matthew 27:51-53 which outlines the dramatic events that took place at the point of Jesus’ death. “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”

When that passage is read to teens – even young kids – many instantly think of zombies wandering around Jerusalem. Oh my! I’ve had to rein in those discussions to try to get the lesson back on track. From that point, the discussion often goes to questions like these:
  • What are we going to do in heaven?
  • I don’t like to sing.
  • It sounds boring, ‘cause I heard that there will be no toys or electronics there.

Perhaps you’ve heard these questions as well. It makes me sad that this is the picture of heaven that we have drawn for our children. It also makes me want to take a moment to reflect on what I have been teaching my kids, grandkids and Sunday School students about heaven? 

Even though God has chosen to keep much of heaven a mystery, He has given us many details that can help change our understanding of eternity spent with Him!
  • There will be a new heaven and a new earth. Revelation 21:1
  • Every believer will have a special place to live. John 14:2-3
  • God the Father, the Lamb (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit are there – as well as living creatures and angels. Revelation 4-5
  • Worship and singing will be an ongoing part of heaven. Revelation 4:8, 11; 5:9-10, 12-13
  • There will be believers from every nation, tribe and tongue – too many to count! Revelation 7:9
  • We will not have to worry about any evil – or temptation to sin. Isn’t that amazing! Revelation 21

 …and I haven’t even touched on the description of the new Jerusalem, the Holy City!

Interesting reads on the topic of heaven include ‘Heaven’ by Randy Alcorn (www.epm.org/browse/heaven) as well as books that claim to be true-life experiences such as 'Heaven is for Real.' I call these interesting reads because they are that – interesting and thought-provoking. However, there is a lot of leeway from Biblical fact in these books. My biggest concern is that many 'heaven-focused' books and movies are not careful to spell out the Gospel message – including the necessity of repentance and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Thus, my caution and fear. Without meaning to confuse the next generation, many well-meaning Christian parents, Sunday School teachers and pastors are leaving a lot to the imagination. Our kids end up not getting a very Biblical picture of heaven - and maybe not even getting an accurate understanding of how they can get there!

The Bible's description of heaven leaves us with many unanswered questions. Personally, I’m okay with the mystery. I figure if God thought we needed the details, He would have given them to us in His Word. I’m more than content to just know that eternity means that I will be in God's presence and that He ‘will wipe every tear from our eyes’ and that ‘there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain'! Revelation 21:4

With just that verse in hand, we have a great description of heaven to share with others. For teens and kids especially, I address their questions this way: Since the Bible says we won’t have tears, we must not be bored. We’ll either love to sing and worship God or there will be amazing things to explore and enjoy in heaven. After all, if God gave us our present heaven and earth to enjoy - which we think is pretty incredible - how much more outstanding will the new heaven and new earth be? For many, this is all it takes for the skepticism to start to dissolve, and a new spark of hope and intrigue can soon be seen in their eyes. The conversation about heaven has now officially begun!

No tears or sadness, no evil, God’s presence lighting each day – I’m in! How about you? Are you looking forward to heaven? Have you taken time to understand and embrace the amazing mysteries that God has already revealed to us about eternity in His presence? 

We must share this incredible message of God's love, patience and promise of eternity with the next generation.

"The present heavens and earth are reserved for fire,
being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
Instead he is patient with you,
not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

2 Peter 2:7-9


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