Today I thought about heaven again. Most of the time when I dream of heaven I dream of a perfectly temperate place full of perfect flora and fauna perfumed with lilac and the occasional whiff of apple pie. I’ve never imagined inheriting a mansion. A cozy cottage happily situated in a wood is more my speed.
But today as I dreamed of the peace place promised to me, I imagined a banquet table loaded with delights like the world has never seen. Those seated at the table surprised me, and I questioned my thought as one often questions how much grace God can offer sinners who don’t sin exactly like you do. I laughed at my own imagination. Seated around the feast were the warring politicians of today all smiling and peaceful passing potatoes and the like. Right, Lord. Like those two would be at the same place enjoying each other’s company, here, in heaven. Right. Surely they are stopping that guy at the gate.
As I looked around the table I noted how each guest was a scoundrel while on earth; not one pure heart was represented among the lot.
Then I realized that I was sitting right there with them sharing turkey with the villains.
As I focused in on another face, it was someone who had deeply wounded me in the past. I’ve struggled to forgive this person. Forgiveness is work for some of us. Grudges are easy. But there he was, my adversary, enjoying the ambrosial banquet.
My adversary in heaven was stripped of his failures. His mistakes were no longer visible to my eyes. He was there, as was I, in perfect form whittled down to whom the Savior intended us to be, all love, all joy. And I loved him. And I knew God loved him. And I was humbled.
Back here on earth we have our separate corners. We have our own parties, our own people, our colors, our flags, our precious opinions and hills we die upon. But in the great beyond, there are no corners. There is one shared table, one shared Savior. Will we sit down with those who we’ve hated? Will we share dinner rolls with our murderers? I believe that is more our choice today than theirs.
In heaven, a perfectly normal scene could be an abortionist seated with the man who blew up the clinic.
In heaven, a Nazi sits comfortably with a Jew.
In heaven, your party is nothing. Your Savior is everything.
In heaven, the abusers and the abused share in the same divine helping of grace and a heaping dollop of mercy.
In heaven, forgiveness melts what tore us apart. Oh, how I wish we could share in that banquet now, where all is peace and joy and love. And I suppose if we cannot come to terms to eating with the villains and the saints, then we have another choice altogether.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14