While we do not argue much about such things, we do talk from time to time, and I appreciate the conversation. I actually think that the soul sleepers have a better perspective on death than most Christians.
Pop Christianity seems to hold a view that death immediately transports us to a heavenly paradise. The images include everything from white-robed, cloud-sitting harp players to mansions on golden hilltops.
If that is the case, then why don’t Christians want to die? With a belief that there is something spectacular just on the other side of the door, why shouldn’t we bust through that door as soon as possible?
Here’s where the soul sleepers have it right. Death should not be welcomed.
Pop Christianity undervalues the resurrection, and thus overvalues what death holds for Christians pre-resurrection (before the Second Coming of Jesus).
I spoke from the beginning of 2 Corinthians 5 last Sunday. This passage of Scripture clarifies:
- The ultimate hope, prize, and goal of Christians is eternity in resurrected bodies suited for the work of serving and worshipping God forever.
- Our present lives matter, and, for believers, the productivity of these lives will be judged (for commendation not condemnation).
- If we die before Jesus returns, while we will be with the Lord, we will not yet be clothed with resurrected bodies (naked as Paul says).
We long for #1… but that is out of our hands. #3 is a wonderful promise for believers. But #2 is the life of purpose that outranks #3.
I suppose we might think that the pop Christianity view of life after death is harmless… but I’m not so sure. For believers such a view may undervalue the importance of this life; it really is no good to be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good. And for pre-believers… such a flimsy view of eternity and undervalued view of this life could be hurdles keeping people from the Gospel. I think our view of eternity matters… a lot.
To hear more of what I had to say about this, in the talk titled In Between, checkout the podcast at www.PleasantBayChurch.org