Bored in Heaven?

Are there too many ‘Christians’ in the world, and not enough disciples?  In his book The Divine Conspiracy, renowned philosopher-theologian Dallas Willard puts it this way:

“It might prove helpful to think occasionally of how, exactly, I would be glad to be in heaven should I ‘make it.’ Will it be like a nice, air-conditioned luxury hotel with unlimited room service and spectacular amenities for eternity? I often wonder how happy and useful some of the fearful, bitter, lust-ridden, hate-filled Christians I have seen involved in church or family or neighborhood or political battles would be if they miese party,schlechte laune einsamkeitwere forced to live forever in the unrestrained fullness of the reality of God…and with multitudes of beings really like him.

“There is a widespread notion that just passing through death transforms human character. Discipleship is not needed. Just believe enough to ‘make it.’ But I have never been able to find any basis in scriptural tradition or psychological reality to think this might be so. What if death only forever fixes us as the kind of person we are at death? What would one do in heaven with a debauched character or a hate-filled heart?”

Can we be in heaven if heaven is not in us?

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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30 Responses to Bored in Heaven?

  1. Great food for thought. However, I hope this is only part of the truth. Although I am engaged in a lifelong process of transformation, I still have a long way to go and I don’t expect that I will be perfect when I die. My hope is that God will take my imperfect longings and strivings and refine them into something beautiful and complete.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Interesting thought – not sure I have an answer to that. I’ll admit that I rarely think about heaven because for the moment I’m more concerned with build God’s kingdom here on earth. That requires more disciples actively trying to be Christ like than Christians in name only.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      It does indeed, Andrew. I’m guessing Willard would say (I know I would) that “getting to heaven” isn’t the goal, but that as you say, being a Christlike disciple and making disciples, is. That path just happens to lead to heaven.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Nancy Ruegg says:

    I agree with Pastor Mike above: Dallas Willard’s musings (on whether we can be in heaven if heaven is not in us) certainly offer food for thought. I wonder how he interpreted such scriptures as 1 John 3:2-3, “When Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Erika Kind says:

    I love the answer you gave with asking the last question. Heaven is definitely not a place to go but a state of being.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good point and food for thought!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I suspect that heaven will hold some remedial education for most of us.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. lprslr says:

    I have always believed that absent from the body is present with G-d. How can one be in the presence of G-d and not be purified?


  8. When I see people who are bitter and destructive I can’t help but think what a waste of the gift of life that is. I can’t even imagine the absolute tragedy it would be to spend eternity in a similar state.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. pastorpete51 says:

    I think you make an excellent point that Jesus calls us to be disciples. Disciples are learners following Jesus but I don’t think any of us will make it to a perfect heart this side of the river. Imagining being with Christ while still harboring sinful attitudes is however pretty shaky theology. God is the one who justifies and one day we will be before Him and I am positive He has an answer to sort out the remaining puzzle pieces whether by loving correction or a final transformation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      I heartily agree, Pete! And I suspect Willard would, too. I don’t think he’s preaching perfectionism here (even the Apostle Paul said, “I don’t consider myself to have attained it yet…but I press on toward the upward calling…”). Rather, I think, Willard is questioning the “fire insurance” idea of merely getting saved, and then living a self-centered life with no real desire to please or glorify God; the notion that God will make me want what I don’t want when I get “there.”

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Jane Tawel says:

    Ah, yes, Dallas Willard will change your way of thinking and maybe even living, for sure, much as Jesus will if you really want to change. Which most of us sadly usually do not. This was timely as I have just been re-reading Willard’s “The Great Omission”. Love Willard’s analogy in “DC” about the pilot flying upside down.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I need some feedback here. I do not understand why we have “Theologians”. We all are Theologians as we study to understand the message Jesus shared with us. I do agree that trying to use Heaven as a replacement for that which is here on Earth may not work. Living is a concept and may not be ”REAL”. I feel that joining the Spirit is where we find Truth and Happiness. I agree with Mr. Willard that you need not be yourself to enter in. This is a great post, Mitch. You have all the great books.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ann Coleman says:

    That’s a very good point, Mitch! I’ll have to think about this one…

    Liked by 2 people

  13. A sobering thought indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The last sentence rings true, quite apart from whether one believes in Heaven with a capital H.

    The image triggers a memory.  Long ago, there was an episode of the old TV show *The Twilight Zone* in which a swindler dies and then finds himself in a cushy afterlife like Willard’s “nice, air-conditioned luxury hotel with unlimited room service and spectacular amenities” despite having been a total scum bag.  W/o the challenge of needing to strive for whatever he wants, the swindler eventually gets bored with instant gratification and blurts out
            “I wish I were in Hell!”
    The episode ends with the reply
            “What makes you think you’re not?”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. gregoryjoel says:

    Thank you for sharing Dr. Willard’s words with us. I’ve had to rethink heaven and hell over the last few years. It’s often difficult to overcome old tapes and the fundamentalist teachings of my youth, but I’ve come to a place where heaven is just an extension of the kingdom life I live here and that’s about discipleship – following and emulating my Rabbi, Jesus.

    I tend to share Brian McLaren’s view that the moment of God’s judgment is when all the dross is burned away. I find it hard to believe that truly self-centered and loveless people have much left to enjoy heaven with.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: Our Human Experience | Mitch Teemley

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