Monday, June 13, 2005


Luxury Mansions in Glory

It’s in many songs about heaven. It encourages downtrodden and poverty-stricken believers. It gives us so much to look forward to in eternity. But it is mostly mistaken.

“I’m satisfied with just a cottage below. . . . But in those mansions . . ., I want a gold one that’s silver lined.” Based on a misconstruing of an antiquated English word, many of us expect to live in luxury for all eternity. Jesus said in John 14, “In my Father’s house are many mansions . . . . I go to prepare a place for you.” I’ve been told to imagine how great heaven must be after Jesus has been building it for 2,000 years. After all, look how beautiful this world is—and that only took him 6 days to make.

Of course, the word Jesus used didn’t imply a luxurious estate, and “mansion” didn’t mean that when the King James Version was translated either. Modern versions have more accurately rendered it “dwelling places.”

The thought process behind the wrong expectation of gold and silver houses is really troubling. The Bible tells us not to be greedy or lovers of money. But, according to this view, it’s okay to be a greedy lover of wealth in heaven. This seems more fitting for other religions than for Christians; those who believe that if you live a chaste life here you will be rewarded in paradise with unlimited sexual immorality. Shouldn’t we expect that a just God would have the same moral principles on both sides of death?

I don’t think the Bible wants us to imagine Jesus spending the past 2,000 years hanging drywall or selecting wallpaper for us. When he said he was “going to prepare a place” for us, his primary reference was his going to the cross. There he prepared a place for us in his Father’s house. Besides, the old heaven and the old earth will be destroyed to make way for the new heaven and new earth anyway. So whatever has been built physically over the past 2,000 years will not be our eternal home.

Most people I have talked to about this feel sad to have to give up their dreams of luxury. Haven’t we set our hearts on eternal things in terms of what is meaningful here on earth? I tell my friends, and myself, that the one good thing we really long for, and don’t have here on earth, is actually what Jesus is promising in John 14: home.

Notice the real attraction of Jesus’ promise, “Where I am, there you may be also.” And, a few verses later, “My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” During our lifetime, we are strangers and pilgrims, exiles from our first home (Eden) where God and man had intimate fellowship, unbroken until sin brought the separation. But the separation is not forever. Jesus went to the cross to prepare a place for us. He will come back and take us to be with him. Now, that’s forever.

Revelation 21:3 expresses the fulfillment of our desire, and of God’s desire that runs throughout Scripture, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.” Read that a few times with your eyes open.

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