Christ always emphasizes that the rewards of heaven are very, very different from the rewards of the world.

Because we haven’t listened to what Christ is teaching us, we are accustomed to thinking of Christianity as if it were like all other religions, as if it were at bottom a system of delayed gratification; of enduring present troubles for future bliss; of discipline and deprivation earning eventual compensation.  That is, after all, what all other religions promise.

But that’s not what Christ promises.  Christ doesn’t promise us an abundance of what we currently enjoy; He doesn’t promise an endless satisfaction of what you currently desire, whatever that is.

Christ promises a new you.  Or rather, Christ promises that you will become someone who most deeply welcomes and find peace in what heaven has to offer.

And what will heaven have to offer?  People often engage in this sort of speculation, but the truth is it has to remain largely that: speculation.  There are really only a few things we can say with certainty about what heaven will offer.  One is that, whatever else life in heaven is like, it will be characterized by elements of mercy and humility and forgiving and poverty of spirit, because Christ teaches us that heaven itself is made up of people who find their self-fulfillment in such things.

And another thing we can say with absolute certainty is that if we don’t find happiness now in spending time with God, we will never find happiness in what heaven has to offer.

The things of heaven are already among us, if we open our eyes to them.  Every act of forgiveness is a heavenly thing.  It is not a price we pay to get into heaven; it is heaven, here and now.  In the same way, spending time with God is a heavenly activity, which we can engage in here and now.  If we find it dull, or difficult, or unrewarding or pointless, then I’m afraid that’s how heaven will seem to us as well.

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