Last weekend I went to see the movie Heaven is For Real. In it, Greg Kinnear plays Nebraska pastor Todd Burpo whose four-year-old son Colton has a near-death experience and claims to have gone to heaven.
Burpo, who preaches every Sunday about Jesus and heaven, struggles to believe that his son really went to heaven despite some pretty compelling evidence (Colton speaks very matter-of-factly about things that happened before his birth—such as the baby his mother lost preterm). Burpo begins to question what heaven really is, and how to preach about it to his congregation.
Belief is a funny thing. Some people believe in God, and Jesus. Some believe in Allah. Some people believe that the bible is the religious text and claim it is proof that Jesus lived. Others read the Torah or the Koran and proclaim it to be the true religious text.
In many parts of the world reincarnation is a given. In some places, not so much. Some people don’t believe in anything religious or spiritual.
In a recent blog post, Pennies From Heaven I talked about messages that I believe my departed loved ones have left to remind me that they are still with me. Someone I know read the post and had this to say:
Suzanne PLEASE don’t believe these things. The bible very clearly shows that the dead are asleep in the grave until the resurrection when Jesus returns. The devil preys on people’s grief and puts on demonstrations trying to convince that their loved ones are around , or in heaven and trying to send them messages. PLEASE stay away from this it is NOT your mom or your sister.
So who’s right?
In the final sermon, Todd Burpo poses the following question, “If we knew for sure that heaven existed, wouldn’t we live our lives differently?”
He then goes on to say that one of the problems is that we measure miracles with yardsticks instead of looking for them in the everyday joys that surround us. Heaven is all around us and it’s in us.
One of the beautiful things about living in America is that we’re free to believe whatever we want. Whatever helps us make sense of this life and the world around us, whatever comforts us in our greatest hours of need.
In terms of what happens after this life? By the time any of us learns for sure, it’ll be too late to tell.
As for me? I believe in God. And in angels. The pennies from heaven and all the other messages I receive comfort me, give me hope, make me feel less alone.
And no matter what religious or spiritual belief you subscribe to, how can that be wrong?
What about you? If you knew for sure that heaven existed, would you live your life differently?