More on "True Spirituality". I am into chapter 4 of this little book by Francis Schaeffer, and I had to put it down and blog about it, it is so interesting.
He posits two realities, side by side in "space-time" as he puts it. He writes:
However, the point I would establish at this stage of our study of spirituality is the fact that there are two equal lines of reality presented to us in the universe. We are in the seen world and there are also Christians who have died, and who are with Christ now. It is not a primitive view, a kind of three-story concept of the universe. This is the biblical view of truth: there are two streams, two strands, a space-time reality-one in the seen, and one in the unseen.
Schaeffer writes that when we become Christians we are given "the earnest of the Holy Spirit" (2 Corinthians 5:4,5). With the Holy Spirit, we are now united with God and those in heaven, the people who are now with Christ, the angels, and so forth. He also cites for this proposition Hebrews 12:22-24. This is seriously cool.
This made me reflect on Scott's joke about celebrate vs. celibacy. There are a lot of jokes like that, that is, there are a lot of jokes about people dying and going to heaven, meeting St. Peter, etc. (I particularly like the ones about lawyers.) But these are really pagan stories. In these stories, Christ is far off, God is far off, we don't see Christ. Instead, we see some sort of reality empty of God but full of irony. We see the heaven of the non-Christian, the heaven of doubt and uncertainty, a faithless heaven, the heaven of the final joke that the gods play on us poor creatures.
I think the next time I hear a heaven joke, I am going to laugh and then I am going to ask the opportunity to describe what heaven is really like to me as a Christian. I will say that when a Christian dies, he is immediately with Christ, period. And then I would say that, even as we speak, I,as a Christian, having received the earnest of the Holy Spirit, am living at a junction of the two realities, and that I already find myself a citizen of the City of God, that is, already part of heaven.
I think this is why we say that when we die we go "home". Heaven is made our home the instant we accept Christ. It was not our "home" the instant before. This "seen" reality was our home.
During the dark days of my chemotherapy treatment, I often thought of what it was going to be like to die. What would actually happen? In response to those thoughts, I had this picture of Christ being there to greet me. He sort of looked like those pictures of Jesus with which we populate the walls of our children's Sunday School classes, but I think that was all right. And behind this Jesus was my grandfather with his big smile, Carol's dad, and other favorite people of mine who had gone on before. There was no one there to ask me any qualifying questions or otherwise examine me. There was simply Jesus and the others greeting me. It was quite an attractive picture, and very comforting.
The implications of Schaeffer's idea of two realities are quite marvelous. So you need to get the book and read it. Then tell me what you think.