Way back in 1987 Belinda Carlisle hat a hit with the song Heaven is a Place on Earth (from the album Heaven on Earth). I don’t particularly like it, but, as if to prove it is time to get back to work, it has been playing around my mind. It’s the usual sentimental stuff, reducing heaven to the latest romance. But, the theology is probably better than intended:
…When I’m lost at sea
I hear your voice
And it carries me
In this world we’re just beginning
To understand the miracle of living
Baby I was afraid before
But I’m not afraid anymore.
So, heaven is not airy-fairy future stuff, but to be rooted and lived here and now. It begins with love and takes away the need to fear. Just as throughout the Bible it is God who keeps taking the initiative and comes to us (we don’t go to him), so in John’s ultimate vision (in Revelation) it is the ‘heavenly city’ that ‘comes down to earth’.
So, we are a weird people who live now as if heaven were already here. After all the challenge of Jesus was whether or not people could dare to believe that God is present even while the Romans remain. Or is God – as popular atheism thinks of Christian thinking – just the crutch there to help us resolve all our problems and prove himself by sorting everything out in our ultimate favour? Jesus seems to think that people who are open to the possibility of God being present in this world – despite the ‘evidence’ of particular circumstances – are those who are free from fear and can truly live. Read the Gospels – that’s the story.
Anyway, I was rather surprised before Christmas to see the following poster in a hotel foyer:
I wasn’t sure if I was being asked to value heaven at £99 or what. But, I certainly hadn’t realised it could be so easily accessed!