Heaven Is Not a Timeshare: How A Generation of Christians Have Been Tricked About Heaven

June 25, 2014

What is the point of being a Christian anyway?

Is this a picture of heaven, or a timeshare? Because the sales pitch is usually about the same.

Is this a picture of heaven, or a timeshare? Because the sales pitch is usually about the same.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately because it seems like we need a sales pitch to get people in the door. What will I get if I agree to this thing called Christianity?

Will Jesus make my life better?

Will I be a better person?

Will I get to go to heaven?

There are a myriad of promises that were made to us when we first accepted Jesus as our “personal” savior, a bunch of guarantees that we could be certain of. I don’t usually do this, but I love Micah Murray’s blog so much, if you haven’t read his Four Reasons I’m Not Going to Heavenyou should (right after you’re done here.) He’s done a great job and I’m not going to retread his points.

There are a lot of bait-and-switch jobs we do to get people to accept Jesus. They are the little Easter Eggs that we scatter around in the hopes of making Jesus more appealing. But I’ve got to think that the greatest trick that we have perpetrated, the biggest bait-and-switch of all time has got to be the certainty that if you accept Jesus, you get to go to heaven when you die.

Here’s what I mean.

The Sales Pitch for Christianity

I have never heard a sales pitch for heaven that was not absolutely glowing. I mean, come on, it’s heaven.

The streets are lined with gold and the seas are crystal clear. It’s a beautiful place.

We get to be reunited with all of our lost loved ones.

What do we do in heaven? There’s always something about whatever we like to do, we get to do it all the time. We get to eat constantly and never gain weight. We get to party all day. Heaven is a super duper fun place. I think the heaven sales pitch has been revamped over the years. These days, we want people to know that they will not be spending eternity floating on a boring old cloud playing a harp. 

Oh and church, that place that we endure our entire lives in order to get to heaven? Yeah don’t worry, heaven won’t be like that either. Heaven will be flipping sweet. All your best buddies will be there and none of the bad people. That girl who insulted you in high school? Yeah, you’ll be able to gloat as she burns in hell, which will also be flipping sweet.

Oh and we’ll probably get to fly too. And we’re going to have totally ripped abs.

You know, stuff like that.

The Money Back Guarantee

Of course, none of that sales pitch comes from the Bible. We just made them up, because that’s what we do when God is silent about stuff like this.

If you press people, they have to say that we really don’t know what heaven is like. But they counter with “But whatever you can think of, it’s BETTER than that!” It’s like a money-back guarantee.

Tricky, tricky. You know, this is starting to sound like a timeshare presentation. It doesn’t make things any better that there are now scores of books, full of testimonies from people who “visited” heaven. They can tell us just how amazing the place is! Now who wants to make a commitment right now?

Yes, heaven is a magical place where we become angels (we don’t) and fly around and look down on the people of Earth (we won’t do that either, the rich man and Lazarus was a parable).

The Fine Print of Heaven

Okay, so what’s the harm of everyone believing all the heaven hocus-pocus?

Because it takes away the reason Jesus died for us. Jesus did not die so that we could go live in a gold mansion. He died so that we could be with God.

Jesus did not promise heaven. He promised himself. He promised to be present with us, Immanuel.

The point of heaven is not all of the stuff we get to do and have. The point of heaven (whatever it is) is that we will be with God. God is what makes heaven heaven. And the point of being with God is that we have to want God more than we want everything else. We have to despise our lives. We have to despise our stuff. We have to despise even our families. We have to even despise whatever idea we have about what heaven is and just want God for who He is. 

Otherwise, heaven is just another idol, another shiny thing that we want.

And God is just a means for us to get that idol. We turn into the whiny toddler at the store, manipulating mom into buying us that new toy.

It’s almost like we opened the biggest present on Christmas morning, and it turned out to be a big box of underwear. Someone found out that the whole point of this Christianity thing is God himself. And that was a huge disappointment. How could we have gone through all this believing and all this worship and all we get is God?

I know, it’s a scam isn’t it? You sit through the whole presentation, the whole sales pitch, and this is what we get?

God almighty.

What say you? Have we tricked a generation of Christians?

7 responses to Heaven Is Not a Timeshare: How A Generation of Christians Have Been Tricked About Heaven

  1. I just read several books that woke me up to the idea that we won’t spend eternity in heaven with God, but God will renew His creation and we will spend eternity in a renewed earth with God, just like Adam and Eve before temptation and before sin. What I have always looked forward to experiencing is being with God with undivided loyalties, where nothing is trying to tear me away from Him, where I see Him clearly as He is, not as in a mirror, darkly or fuzzily. And I believe that it will be better than we can ever imagine.
    tandemingtroll recently posted..Book Review: _Cinderella’s Dress_ by Shonna Slayton

  2. Matt:

    You’re absolutely right that getting to be with God is what heaven is about. We can make heaven an idol if we aren’t careful – sort of a prosperity gospel on steroids kind of thing. Yet, the promises Jesus made about the afterlife were pretty extravagant, so it seems we cannot discount entirely the heaven is a pretty cool place idea. I suspect, like most things with Jesus, it will be super duper, but just not exactly in the way we expect.

    Thanks for writing.

    Gus Nelson

  3. I agree that Heaven should not be the dangling carrot for Christianity. As a Christian though, I am grateful for the knowledge of an eternity without pain and sorrow and sadness. Promised by God Himself, I look forward to the beauty of Heaven. Not more than being with God but definitely a nice chunk of icing.

  4. hi matt the problem is mankind and its religions with there false promises you cannot get to heaven through any religion. The only way to God is through the holy spirit and when you get there you understand how useless religion is in translating Gods message.

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Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Wednesday Link List | Thinking Out Loud - July 2, 2014

    […] Essay of the Week (2): In making Christianity all about ‘going to heaven’ we’ve basically tricked an entire generation with a flawed sales pitch. […]

  2. About That Mansion Over the Hilltop | Christianity 201 - July 2, 2014

    […] Today’s thoughts are from Matt Appling at the always interesting blog, The Church of No People where it appeared under the title Heaven is not a Timeshare: How a Generation of Christians Have Been Tricked About Heaven. […]