Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dreaming of Paradise: Stupid Fleshly Fantasy, Or God-Given Desire?

“I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

-Isaiah 43:6-7 (ESV)

God created humans for his glory to and bring glory to himself! We were formed and made by him out of dust and when we were created, we were created without blemish and without sin. Take a look at what God said here at the end of the Genesis chapter 1:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

-Genesis 1:27-31 (ESV)

“It was very good!” See all things God created were good. We were created to live in a paradise where no harm could come to us and no pain would grace our presence. Yet mankind rebelled against God and chose to disobey God and ate of forbidden fruit, which brought sin into the world, which then consequently brought suffering, pain and death into the world as well (Genesis 3). This my friends is why suffering, pain and death are so un-natural to us, because we were not created to have to deal with them in God’s original plan. This fact reminds me of the opening lines of Coldplay’s recent single:

“When she was just a girl,
She expected the world,
But it flew away from her reach,
So she ran away in her sleep.”

We all at one point in our life are like the young girl in this story song. We expect the world, that is, we view the world in a way that is positive, exciting and ready to grant us the opportunity to have happiness in our lives. We haven’t experienced pain, sadness, loss and grief yet. However, at some point in our young lives we experience one or more of these and we feel like the dream we had of a safe world has flown ‘away from (our) reach’.

As the next lines in song Chris Martin sings are about the girl dreaming of ‘paradise’ after running away in her sleep, I realize that this in fact is also a direct result of the way God designed us. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 Solomon tells us that God has "put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” You see God has put this idea of something greater than ourselves into each of our hearts, and idea that says this hurt I am feeling is not natural and not what was intended to be in my life. He also keeps things hidden from us in order to draw us to Himself and so that we put our trust in Him.

Putting our trust in Him though, does not come without good reason. Jesus, as he was preparing to go to the cross spoke to his disciples in a long, four-chapter narrative that is only recorded in the Gospel of John. As he concludes the teaching part of His talk and moves into what Bible scholars call Christ’s High Priestly Prayer, he tells his disciples that “in the world your will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b) Hear that? In the world we live in that is sinful and fallen we will have trials and (as some versions say) trouble. Jesus is telling us that this is going to be a part of our lives, and we should not be surprised when they occur. Yet, there is that small word that packs so much meaning there in “BUT take heart, I have overcome the world!” Jesus is reminding us that he has dominion over everything in the world, because he was there, and a part of, its creation with God the Father, and thus He is greater than all of the pain that is in the world because of the result of sin. While the world in its current state is still full of sin, when Christ returns one day and establishes his kingdom here on earth there will be no more trials and troubles!

That leads me to my next (and final for now) scripture passage on our Christian hope. In Revelation 21 John has a vision of what the new heaven and new earth will be like one day:

“I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ’Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ’Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”

-Revelation 21:3-5 (ESV)

You see friends, for those who put their faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, there is a way to one day be re-united with Him in an eternity that will be once again like the Garden of Eden, absent from all death, mourning, crying, or pain as the above verse tells us. We will one day be in the ‘para, para, paradise’ we have all been longing for since birth once again! I don’t know about you, but that makes me extremely hopeful during any trials that I face in my life. While we will never find our paradise on earth, there is one waiting for us one day, either in Heaven and/or at Christ’s return!