Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Talk Overview: Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory (2 of 4)

Yesterday we looked at how we desire happiness and that desire was placed there by God so that we may seek—and find—him. Today we'll look at what that may be like.

What we call "heaven" is really nothing more than the presence of God. It's not the God is "in" heaven as we are "in" a house; heaven obviously cannot be bigger than God. Heaven is simply being in God's presence; wherever he is, there heaven is, too.

It can be hard to understand how something as simple as God's presence can make a person eternally happy. Our concept of "God's presence" generally means "church" and, for most of us, an hour or two on Sunday is enough of that. What about my sources of happiness? What about TV, water skiing, and sunsets? What about all the other things that make me happy? I remember in college some buddies of mine used to say that if there was no beer in heaven then they didn't want to go (as if there's beer in hell?).

This is a common way of thinking and it's caused—as discussed yesterday—by thinking that happiness is caused by the events and people in our lives. When we can't conceive happiness without something we currently enjoy, we obviously think that thing causes happiness.

In reality, happiness is caused by the satisfaction of our desires. When we feel satisfied and content happiness is the natural side-effect. Our deepest natural desire is for God; really for God's presence. We long to be with him and when in his presence this desire will be fully and completely satisfied. That is the happiness of heaven. It's not that each and every whim and desire will be satisfied but that our core desire will be satisfied and the desire for the other stuff will simply disappear.

When eating a perfectly prepared steak; who asks for a Big Mac? When on the beach of a five-start resort; who wishes they could spend one night at the Motel 6? No one. When our deepest desires are fulfilled we lose our desires for other things. In the same way when our hunger for God is sufficiently satisfied; what else could we possibly want?

Tomorrow we will focus on the opposite of this state of being: hell.

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