Although our view of the universe today is very different from that held by people in biblical times, we still commonly refer to heaven as being up there. We don’t really think that heaven is a place above the sky, but by talking that way we imply that heaven is on another level of existence, superior to that which we ordinarily experience. When we refer to heaven as a place, we know that it is not a physical location; it is, rather, a spiritual reality. While the biblical idea of heaven is that it is God’s home, God’s home is not physical, but spiritual. God’s kingdom is a realm of the spirit. I find it more helpful to think of life in heaven as life on a different dimension or in a different state of consciousness rather than as a place. Psychologically, it feels distant or close depending upon our state of mind and spirit at the time. And it’s not just imaginary or speculative. Whenever we feel a sense of God’s peace, acceptance and forgiveness, we experience a little of the heaven experience. Whenever we know the love of God holding us, embracing us, we get a taste of heaven. So how do we interpret the Ascension story of Acts1:6-14? Jesus is not removed from us into some far distant place, but rather he is a spiritual reality, one with God; invisible, but present; asking us to be his witnesses wherever we are whether it be at home or in some far distant place. The Spirit of God and of his Christ is with us empowering and directing us in that task. Are we responding?
- Contrast the biblical idea of heaven with the ideas popularly held by people today?
- Which most strongly influences your idea of heaven: the biblical view or popular opinion?
- What, in Acts 1:6-14, suggests that we are to be Christ’s witnesses wherever we are?
- Traditionally Christmas, Easter, Ascension Day and Pentecost are the great festival days of the Christian calendar. Which is most important for you? Why?