Friday, May 29, 2009

Will we recognize each other in heaven?

This question is from Kat:

Assume the Bible is true. Assume it is our go-to source for the answer to this question. So no one else can monkey with why you're answering the way you are. I want to know if I will know you - the DPM I knew here on earth - and be able to recognize you when we get to heaven.

Did you ever see that movie City of Angels? If you haven't, don't run out and rent it or anything. I never much liked it, and the only reason I'm referencing it is that I figure it would be a bad idea to reference Dogma.


But in the movie, Nicolas Cage plays an angel that falls in love with a human woman played by Meg Ryan. One problem. Angels aren't allowed to love humans. So he has to choose between his (Eh?) and his love for Meg Ryan. TOUGH CHOICE!

Oh, wait. That's Dogma again. Dangit!

Anyway, this whole thing about non-sexual angels most likely comes from Matthew 22:30, which says...

"At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven."

Incidentally, this is Wifey's least favorite verse in the whole Bible. She's convinced she's going to talk God into letting us still be married in heaven.

I think this verse may be the biggest reason people think we may not recognize each other in heaven. There are a few more, but I think this is the one that really hits home. And the Bible doesn't really address the question directly, but I think there are enough clues to help us come to an answer.

Now listen. I could go on forever with exegesis, but I'm gonna try to just hit enough verses to make a point. First is Luke 16:19-31.

This is the story of the rich man that goes to hell and the beggar Lazarus who goes to heaven after spending his life starving and covered with sores that dogs would come and lick. (Gross, huh? It's in the Bible though!)

But the nasty sores aren't really the point. What you need to see here is that the rich man recognizes not only Lazarus, but also Abraham.

To further illustrate that point, consider the Transfiguration story, found in Matthew 17:1-13. That's where Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus on top of a high mountain. The glory of God fell on Jesus, but the disciples still recognized him. And they also recognized Moses and Elijah.

There are a ton of passages I could throw at you, but let me just give you a few more that you can look up later if you're interested.

Matthew 7:21-23
We'll remember our earthly lives.

I John 3:2
We won't be less of who we are in heaven. We'll be more of who we are.

II Samuel 12:23
We'll join our deceased loved ones in heaven.

I Thessalonians 4:13
There's no reason for us to worry about losing those that have passed on.

And here's the biggie, for me at least. I Corinthians 13:12.

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

The general idea here is that we're not going to know less. We're going to know more. We won't just recognize those we knew on earth. We'll recognize everyone, including Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and a bunch of other people we've never met.

So what will stop Wifey from grabbing my neck and holding on to me for all eternity? Well, I have a thought...

I don't think she'll love me any less. In fact, I think she'll love me more. For that matter, I'll be more lovable, cleansed from corruption and clothed in glory. (Oh, she thinks I'm handsome now. Just wait!)

But you'll be more beautiful too. We all will be. And there will be no sin to separate us from each other. We'll all love each other with real agape - perfect love - in a way we're just not capable of right now.

But that will all be nothing as compared to the experience of seeing God face to face. Kat, I'm not sure if you remember this, but a long time ago I read you a poem I wrote that included these final lines:

We will not know what beauty is, 'til then in paradise,
We see the beauty in all things when gazing in God's eyes.

Yeah, maybe it's bad poetry, but I affirm the theology. All the goodness and all the beauty we've ever experienced or imagined will find their perfect culmination in God. Everything we've always really needed, and the subject of our uncorrupted desire...we'll be staring it right in the face.

Crazy, huh?

Will I know you in heaven? Yes.

Will I care? Sure. I'll love you very much.

Will Wifey throw her arms around me? Maybe every once in a while.

Will it be her primary occupation? I don't think so.

Will she believe me when she reads this? No. She'll be sad. That's just Wifey. (Love you, honey!)

Isn't she cute though?


P.S. Tomorrow Wifey's taking over the blog, which is always fun. Monday I'll be back at it to answer a question posed some time ago by SuperEgo. I'll also announce the contest winner!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Okay, since my first comment was posted improperly, I'll redo. (Was that you, Lord? :))

    So honey, great answer to Kat. I fully agree... except for this - unless God takes a huge knife, and cuts out a huge part of both of our hearts, I still can't fathom that we won't be in love in heaven, unless it's purified in such a huge way, which of course, God can totally do.

    Stinker husband. Trying to talk me into Matthew 22:30! It will take some more serious revelation from God to imagine not being married to you in heaven. Or do I have to incite rebellion #2, and steal you away or something? :)

    Rant hereby completed. Thank you. God, you may deal with me now! Gently, please! :)

  3. A) I guess this means I didn't win. Bummer.

    B) I hate pretty much every movie I've ever seen about heaven. City of Angels, yuck. Haven't seen Dogma. But thank you SO much for not referencing What Dreams May Come, which scarred me for life.

    C) I am with Wifey on this one - this is really tough for me to handle. Except I do like the idea that I'll be able to recognize people who have gone before, whom I never got to know on Earth.

    D) Thanks for the answer and the verses. I will print this out and keep it in my Bible! :)

    Further up and further in!