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Heaven for Calvin

If you follow the harum-scarum exploits of six-year-old Calvin in Bill Watterson’s cartoon strip, this kid is extremely difficult to please. A desperate dad, hoping vainly that this time will be different, carts his wife, wayward son, and stuffed toy tiger Hobbes to a distant vacation with canoe rides, towering mountain scenery, and bracing swims in the shimmering lake.

First off, Calvin hates the trip itself, demanding endless cheap ketchup-drenched hamburgers at every stop and tormenting his dad with deafening versions of Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall. When they arrive at paradise, things are even worse. “How come there’s no TV here?” he grumps. “There’s nothing to do. I’m bored out of my skull.” When Dad invites him to go fishing at six a.m., reminding him that the early bird gets the worm, Calvin gags into the camera. “Big incentive.”

Calvin does provide a simplistic backdrop to one of Scripture’s enduring questions, which has to do with who will be saved. Isn’t it realistic to conclude that Jesus is preparing heavenly mansions especially for people who would appreciate a grand and eternal life in just such a place? I wouldn’t dream of going on a long vacation without first sending off for some brochures and surfing the resort’s web site, and the Bible gives plenty of info about that faraway land beyond the stars.

Almost every time Jesus launched into a parable, he introduced the tale with this caveat emptor: “The kingdom of heaven is like . . .”

We find that grace is an important part of the building code in the New Jerusalem. Your former enemies are going to be living right next door; are you okay with that? There will be people eating at the heavenly banquet table who only worked in the vineyard for an hour, while you spent all day toiling for the Lord. Prodigal sons will be there. It will be a place for those who have lost count after forgiving enemies 490 times.

I admit there are weekends where I really enjoy worship, and others where I struggle to get into the mood. But heaven will be a worshiping place. If we have fallen into a pattern of not particularly caring about going to church and holding hymnals and kneeling in prayer and putting money in an offering plate to spread the good news . . . well, it’s an unavoidable fact that heaven is a kingdom where we will regularly worship and praise our Creator.

I have friends who tell me they are eager for the joys of heaven, but simply do not wish to be a part of a church community now. If a lifestyle of weekly church is a problem for seventy years down here, will it loom as a difficulty, even a chore, when it’s on the schedule in heaven’s megachurch once a week for the next ten thousand years bright shining as the sun?

We worship a gentleman God. He plans a party, then invites friends he’s confident will have a wonderful experience the whole time they’re there.

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About David B. Smith

David B. Smith

writes from Southern California.

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