Do We Really Get Mansions?

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Sometimes I must admit I wish the opposite were true. I wish I could look forward to vast treasures and great wealth. Instead, Randall nailed it on the head when he spoke of the importance of relationship, specifically speaking the idea that “the closest thing we have to Jesus on earth is one another.”

Many Sundays contained within my mental recesses of childhood (it’s really all one big ‘recess’) were spent at my grandparents. They were, and still remain, the perfect Baptist, Bible-belt grandparents. The small, country Baptist church boasted a 90+ year-old worship leader and the choir would take whoever wanted to sit up there. I would tag along with my grandmother, sitting up there just so I could look out over the crowd and seem more important than the other kids (after all, the most important were on stage).

Songs like “I’ll Fly Away”, “When The Roll is Called Up Yonder”, “I’ve Got A Mansion” and the like instilled within me from an early age that there was a vast storage of riches in heaven and they were available to the good ones here on earth. When I was nice to a friend, I pictured a new gemstone in my crown, while telling lies reduced the size of my future home. After all, Jesus left to prepare me a new place and it’s certainly the kind super-athletes like Michael Jordan would be proud of.

I’ve always kept that childhood mentality until, sorry to say, fairly recently. The N.T. book of Revelation seems to pervade this “vast riches” mentality (as does the Trump-ly ornate TBN set). But something about that seems, well, materialistic. As a pastor preaching sermons each week that touch on the down and out and God’s heart for the oppressed, the afterlife as Uncle Scrooge’s vault seems rather funny – an eternal tease of the poor finally receiving riches when it won’t even matter anymore.

In Ephesians, Paul prays for us to understand a few things about God and His Kingdom – one of those being “his vast inheritance in the saints…” That single line made me pause and seemed to flip everything around, suddenly causing miles of other passages to make sense (at least to me). The riches are His people. The inheritance to come can be found in the people being saved around us. Indeed, God’s most prized creation – man and woman – is indeed the treasure that Heaven will be full of.

I’m learning this changes the way I view the world around me. Building privacy fences here on Planet Earth keeps me away from the future treasure I was so looking forward to (and which my grandparents still sing about). We’re not leaving this ole’ world behind to find some lavish resort all to ourselves. We’re fully surrounded by the very treasure and inheritance of God right now and someday the Kingdom of God will be fully revealed and restored and we will be made new, but we will still be all around each other just as we were before. Only we will be completely who we were made to be.

Thus, you are my treasure, like it or not. And dreaming of “flying away” only keeps me from appreciating the beauty of you. Eugene Peterson writes about this in Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. He mentions people who say they want to get in touch with Creation and then they speak of escaping to mountains or retiring to oceanside villas. But instead, Peterson notes that to get in touch with the Creator, to truly appreciate Creation is to spend time with humanity. “Go to a tavern” or “ride the bus” is Peterson’s recommendation for truly getting in touch with these things.

I’m not as inclined to agree as I wish I was. But I’m beginning to understand a bit more…

Profile photo of Matt Conner

Matt Conner is a freelance writer and music journalist. As the founding pastor of The Mercy House, he led a church community for more than six years in intense community development across racial and socio-economic lines. As a writer, he’s interviewed thousands of musicians for multiple print and web-based publications.


4 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Andrew Peterson

    Andrew Peterson

    @andrew

    This reminds me a lot of something I learned from James Bryan Smith (Jim Smith, to the lay person). One of his books, Room of Marvels, deals with this idea. The book is sort of like The Great Divorce in that it’s a look at Heaven through the dream of the main character. Jim’s character meets several friends who have died and gone before him, and each teaches him something about his faith and the nature of Heaven.

    Tim, the main character, ends up in the room that Christ has prepared for him (the room of marvels), and the walls are covered with tiny pictures in frames. Each picture is of a person whose life was affected by the love of Christ in the character, and when Tim touches the picture that person tells him about it the way his life blessed theirs.

    Matthew 6:

    “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

    Now, when I was a kid I thought that this meant that if I gave enough money to the church then I’d have better digs in Heaven. A silly thought, but that’s the way many of us still think. The only treasure we can store up in heaven–the only thing that’s here on this earth that we’ll encounter in heaven–is people.

  2. Profile photo of Jonathan Rogers

    Jonathan Rogers

    @jonathanrogers

    What a great reminder…”to truly appreciate Creation is to spend time with humanity.” We ARE creation–its very pinnacle. I really liked Peterson’s CHRIST PLAYS IN TEN THOUSAND PLACES…that might be a good candidate for a review on the Rabbit Room.

    I’ve been doing some thinking on the idea of riches in heaven too…I love that image of streets paved with gold–not because it conjures up images of Uncle Scrooge’s treasure vault, but because it speaks to one of the truest things about the Kingdom of God: that which is most valuable is the most readily available. Gold? Pshaw! In heaven we pave streets with it.

    As you said, Matt, we’re already surrounded by God’s truest treasures. We’re already living in Uncle Scrooge’s vault, so to speak. We long for the day when we will all be finished–wholly who we were made to be–but even now, the richest blessings are readily available. It’s an upside-down version of the world’s idea of treasure, whereby a thing is valuable insofar as it is hard to get.

  3. Mike Dempsey

    Thanks ! You’ve dashed all my greedy materialistic thoughts. I lIke this perspective. It makes you think twice about passing up a treasure sitting next to you on bus, begging for food or someone you work with. It actually makes more sense than the money gold thing because I often thought why I would need it in heaven. Thanks for enlightening me.

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