Whether you like it or not, you are a believer. You get to pick what you believe in, but you have no say over your need to believe. You may believe in science or Buddha or Jesus or Oprah or yourself, but you have faith in something.
And it doesn’t help that we have redefined what it means to believe. To most of us, the word “believe” basically means, “I agree with the data.” Believing is something we do with our mind. But when Jesus spoke of belief, he meant something very different. Jesus taught that to “believe” in God has to do with trusting.
We live in a world that is filled with challenges on many fronts: environmental, political, social, relational… the list is long. Where is God in all this? Sitting on the sidelines watching? It sometimes seems that way, but the truth is deeper than that: God is not on the sidelines. He’s in the middle of our messy world with us, and he’s not here to simply observe. God has provided everything we need for life and godliness and wills our good in every instance, but at the same time he respects us enough to allow us to make our own choices.
Many struggle to believe the Bible is true because it says that God is overseeing the world, yet the world is having serious problems on multiple levels. Pretty shoddy oversight, it appears. If there is a God, why does he allow so many bad things to happen?
Throughout history, people have been convinced there is life beyond the grave. Jesus and the Jews of His time believed that everyone would enter the afterlife and be judged by God. Some would spend eternity with Him; others would be condemned to eternal separation. They spoke of the heavens as having several layers: the most basic was the earth’s atmosphere, the home of birds and clouds. The second was the realm of the stars in outer space. The third level transcended physical boundaries and was called paradise and the heaven of heavens–the home of God, His angels, and His people.
Inquiring minds have lots of questions about this place called paradise, but if we want to understand the nature of heaven, the first thing we must do is shed the silly images we’ve seen on television and in the movies. Heaven is not filled with remorseful people trying desperately to return to earth–it’s populated with folks having the time of their lives.