What happens when we die? Is Heaven a real place?
What will happen when I die?
This is a profound question that every person wonders about: including you! We all want to know what is waiting for us when we finally leave this existence (all we have ever known), and enter into whatever is waiting for us afterward. For some of you, this curiosity leaves you frightened or anxious.
What if there is nothing? Will my existence merely float off into darkness while my physical body decomposes back into the earth?
What if I am on the wrong side of something? Will I spend the rest of eternity living in pain or misery because of the mistakes I am making right now?
What if there is no way of actually knowing? Will we all merely have to wait and see, crossing our fingers that whatever is to come will show mercy to us?
As a Christian, I put my faith in a place labeled as “Heaven,” but it is most likely not the heaven you are thinking about. Christians often find themselves wrestling with the concept of Heaven. What’s it like? Who else will be there? What will my part be? The reality is that the Bible (and Jesus) spend very little time explaining Heaven to us. It appears the importance was not in its substance, but its proximity.
Before I go any further, take 6 minutes to watch this video by The Bible Project on the nature of Heaven and Earth:
There are two dimensions at work (or at least that is how the Bible and Jesus explain it to us). There is God’s dimension that is perfect and purely holy and there is humankind’s dimension which has proven to be corrupt and messy. Thankfully, God has a plan to bring them back together.
That’s right, God’s plan for us is not to export us from the corrupt earth to the heavenly realm where he resides. Heaven is not some far off reality that we will be transported to after we die. God’s plan is to reunite the two dimensions and the crux of his plan resides in Jesus.
You might have missed it, but Jesus prayed about this in the most well-known prayer ever: “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Did you just smack yourself on the forehead? Jesus has been saying this all along!
In fact, everywhere Jesus went he brought a little piece of Heaven with him. Ultimately, humans would kill Jesus because of this, but not before he established a permanent overlap of Heaven and earth.
So is Heaven a real place or not?
We see riddled throughout the Bible this overarching theme that one day Heaven and earth will fully-overlap once again. I say ‘once again’ because of what was witnessed in the Garden of Eden in the very beginning; God and humans will coexist within the same realm. So is heaven a real place?
Not only is the answer a resounding yes! but we can actually interact with Heaven right now in this very moment. As Christians, we are not only awaiting the day that Christ returns and fulfills the reuniting of Heaven and earth, but we are participating in making that bond a little stronger.
As Christ went around the world bringing little pieces of Heaven with him, we have been given the same authority and power because of his Spirit that lives within us! That is pretty remarkable when you really spend time thinking about it. We are participating in the “reuniting” of these two realms (God’s realm and human’s realm) by the way we live, act, and love.
The story is far from over. As this new understanding of Heaven and earth begins to strengthen in your mind, the question becomes less of “what happens when I die,” and more “what am I doing while I am alive?”
That is the question Jesus wants us to ask.
That is the question the Bible is answering.