As I sat in chapel one evening during camp last week, I was struck with a thought. It suddenly occurred to me that those people—the people with whom I was singing praises and who I will miss terribly next year—would be the same people with whom I will be in Heaven for eternity. Up to this point, my experience with "camp people" has been that we see each other once a year (or twice if we manage to make it to a retreat), and only in the last few years have we been able to keep in touch through blogs and facebook. For the most part, "camp people" are the people you love dearly and intensely for that one special week of the year... and then you go back to regular life and all of your regular friends.* Fortunately, the Internet has made it much easier to stay in touch with these people, but there is still an element of separation going on because they are not physically there. Lately, I have been very sad about the fact that I will be separated even further from my camp friends (and other friends and family), but the thought I had that night during worship gave me a lot of comfort.
Think about it. If Heaven is even a little bit as I understand it, we will all be praising God together. But, we won't have bodies with faulty vocal cords to produce sour notes. We will have been purified and made "perfect," meaning that we won't have any physical hindrances to keep us from perfectly expressing God's glory. We can try as hard as we can now (on earth in our physical bodies) to give God the praise he deserves, but we fall short every time. After all, right now we can't even understand him fully. I believe that in Heaven, we will have not only the capacity to understand God in all his fullness but to reflect it back on him with 100% accuracy. (And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. —2 Corinthians 3:18.) I think that's pretty cool.
There's something else that's cool about the whole thing that, I admit, is speculation on my part. I have not studied this enough to be sure about the scriptures to back this up and their individual contexts. But, my general feeling is that since we won't, like I said, be contained any longer by physical bodies, there will be nothing to keep our souls from, well, "mingling" with each other. My personal guess is that, just like Eve was formed from a piece of Adam (specifically, his rib), men and women were formed from "pieces"** of God. I will even go as far as to say that I think that God (who is light, which is energy) himself is in us physically in the sense that he keeps all of our electrons spinning. In other words, God holds together Adam's atoms. (Okay, I'll go ahead and throw these out here: 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' —Acts 17:28; He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. —Colossians 1:17. I'm open to feedback on these verses.) If I am right, we and everything in creation*** are constructed of bits of God that long to re-join each other:
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
—Romans 8:18-23 (Again, let me know if I am wrongly using this passage.)
Coming back to what this will mean for us in Heaven, I speculate that we will no longer be frustrated by the bounds of our physical bodies. More specifically, it won't matter that you live in Greenville, SC and your friend lives in Paducah, KY. It won't matter that, even if you manage to see your friend in person, the best you can do is to look them in the eye and to give them a hug (I'm trying to keep it clean here). When you're in Heaven, I theorize that you and your friend will actually be one. Actually, you and me and Moses and everyone who is there will all be one. (I do think that we will all retain our personalities—and they will all fit together perfectly to make sense somehow—but this part really is just a wild guess.)
The two commands Jesus (well, God) gave us that trump everything else are to love God and to love others.**** We try so hard to do these two things, but the truth is that, as long as we are hindered by the flesh, we cannot do them perfectly. Even when we aren't specifically thinking of doing these things to fulfill our Christian duty, we long to be fulfilled through interactions with people. Why else do we spend hours and hours on facebook? We all want the warm fuzzies. Unfortunately, our desires for intimacy often lead to going about trying to get it in the wrong ways. The good news is (if I am thinking correctly) that we will experience that intimacy in an infinite, perfect sort of way in Heaven. As I view the prospect of going physically far, far away from people I love very, very much, this kind of thought is what keeps me from breaking down. I have to let go of what is temporary and embrace what is eternal.
So, am I crazy? How would you say my points hold up as compared to the Bible (or, for fun, to, perhaps, C.S. Lewis, Rob Bell, or Francis Chan)?
In anticipation of what is to come, both soon and far away,
*I admit that there are some "camp people" I have seen more often than that—and I do still love and think about my camp friends when they're not around—but that doesn't negate my point.
**However, since God is infinite, taking something "out" of him would not result in there being any less of him.
***No, I do not believe that rocks and trees and things are gods themselves. That is just stupid. I worship the Creator, not the creation. Rocks and trees exist in the physical world; therefore, they "have being" (physically) and require some form of energy to hold them together. However, simply existing does not require having consciousness or will or power.
****Yes, I know that there is a huge difference between "loving" God/people through selfless actions and "loving" God/people emotionally. My point is just that we are wired to be made complete in God and other people.