Is Heaven For Real?
Yesterday, I watched the movie, "Heaven is For Real" on Netflix. It is based on a true story about a four-year-old boy who slips out of consciousness during emergency surgery and enters heaven. He survives and describes angels, thrones in heaven, and God as one trinity. Also, Colton said he met a sister whose mother miscarried before she was born, and his granddad who died long before he was born.
It took place in 2003. His father wrote a book about his son's heavenly experience in 2010. More than 11 million copies of the book have been sold, making it a New York Times best-seller. The movie was released in 2014.
The purpose of this article is not to discuss what Colton experienced or debate whether he actually met Jesus and a host of other people in heaven. Rather, I would like to know why so many people are interested in the afterlife? More than 11 million copies have been sold, proving people's curiosity about the afterlife. While the world is becoming increasingly secular, many still believe in an afterlife. How come?
Most people would like to think that their spiritual essence (soul, spiritual part of themselves) won't die when their physical lives end. If not, what is the point of all of our lives if we are doomed to oblivion and death? Humans also enjoy happy endings, such as: "And then they lived happily ever after." People who lost a loved one want to believe that they have moved to a better place and not just become plant manure.
Many people find comfort, meaning, and hope in believing in an afterlife. Several factors may contribute to the appeal of the concept. Are you a believer in the afterlife? Why do you think that? Do any of these apply?
Fear of Death
It is common for humans to fear death. The belief in an afterlife eases the fear and anxiety associated with death by providing a possibility of life after death.
Life can be more meaningful and purposeful when you believe in an afterlife. The notion implies that the consequences of what we do here extend beyond our earthly existence. This gives a sense of significance to the choices we make and the behaviors we exhibit.
Justice and Reward
The concept of an afterlife often includes notions of justice and reward. It offers the hope that those who live virtuous lives will be rewarded, while those who commit injustices may face consequences. This can provide a sense of fairness and resolution, especially in the face of injustice and suffering in the world.
Reunion and Continuity
Believing in an afterlife allows the possibility of reuniting with loved ones who have passed away. It provides solace by suggesting that death is not the end of relationships and connections.
Coping with Grief
Belief in an afterlife can help people cope with the loss of loved ones. It provides a framework for understanding death as a transition rather than a permanent separation, offering comfort during the grieving process.
Cultural and Religious Influence
Religious and cultural traditions often promote afterlife belief as part of their teachings. For many people, their beliefs are deeply intertwined with their cultural or religious identities. They find comfort and support in the shared beliefs of their community.
Not everyone believes in an afterlife. Perspectives on the subject can vary greatly depending on personal beliefs, cultural background, and individual experiences. Hardened scientists do not believe in the afterlife because they cannot prove it with evidence. Of course, no one can in this life. Atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins says people don't go to heaven after they die. There's no afterlife for individuals. However, people live on through the genes that they have passed on to their children.
Others believe in an afterlife because it makes sense to them. The idea that the world, the universe, everything in existence, happened entirely by accident and for no purpose whatsoever, does not make logical sense to them. The idea that there is something beyond this existence seems much more logical to them. They don’t need scientific proof because human science has limits and limits to our capabilities to learn and understand. Life is fair and unfair to an extent. People look forward to a better life in an afterlife and bear their struggles at the present.
What do you believe? Why?
As a Christian, I believe death isn't the end. Since Jesus Christ rose from the dead 2,000 years ago, that belief has shaped the Christian faith. It doesn't mean Christians aren't affected by grief when a close friend or relative dies. However, it means they have a hope that goes beyond life and death. That hope keeps them going in tough times.
The Bible tells us about heaven – a place where God lives with his people. It is a place of endless love and perfect peace; where, according to the Bible book of Revelation, ‘He [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…’.
Jesus taught about the resurrection of the dead and the future renewal of all things:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – Jn. 11:25-26
It is a matter of historical record that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified because of His claims to be the only Son of God. The tomb where he was laid to rest was empty and many eyewitnesses claimed to have seen the risen Christ. If someone died and rose from the dead, just as He said He would, I will believe Him.
Let us pray.
When we're born again, You don't take us straight to heaven; You have a purpose for us here on earth- to bring You glory and share the gospel with those who don't know You. Rather than getting caught up in the things of this world, you want us to remember where our true citizenship is.
Help me shift my perspective when I get overwhelmed with my responsibilities here or get entangled with worldly things. As the world gets darker around us, let me be a beacon of hope to those who don't know Christ. Thank you for making me heavenly-minded.
In Jesus’ name, amen.