JE Logo - Avatar

Heaven Is the Reward, not the Goal.

Share This Post

Throughout my life while growing up in church, I was told constantly that I needed to be saved so that I could go to Heaven when I die. I pretty much accepted this without question in my adolescence and only changed my perspective upon entering college and taking my introductory theology classes. I realized soon that neither Jesus nor the New Testament authors make the claim that Heaven is the goal and I was blown away; my entire perspective of the Bible was changed and I then had a better understanding of what the purpose of our faith really is. I hope to share that with you here.

Where did we get this idea that Heaven is the goal rather than the reward? Well, I believe it most likely stems from a personal desire to reconnect with our loved ones that have gone before us. When someone close to us dies, we are comforted by the promise of Christ that we will all one day live again, and that means live together again for believers. Surely this is an amazing and undeserved promise, but I am afraid we sometimes get hung up on the benefit of that promise and overlook what Jesus actually said about our faith. Consider the Lord’s prayer:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
(Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)

Jesus demonstrates to us that we are to pray for God’s kingdom of Heaven to come to Earth, not that we should pray to go to it. Jesus is more concerned with the establishment of Heaven on Earth through our collective efforts as Christians and that is reflected by the whole of the New Testament authors. The book of Revelation especially makes it clear that Heaven will be brought to us and that we will dwell in it forever, not that we are being taken from this Earth and going into the kingdom where it currently exists. Regardless, Jesus has promised that we will end up in Heaven here on Earth.

But what is the difference if we are still ending up in Heaven in the end? To understand that Heaven will only be established on Earth through the collective efforts of Christians changes our perspective because it no longer remains about our own benefits but the benefits of others. Every day that we do unto others we would have done for us, every day that we clothe the naked, every day that we feed the hungry, every day that we assist the poor, we are building Heaven here for others rather than ourselves; our goal, then, is not that we are directly seeking the benefit of Heaven for ourselves, but that others will receive the benefit of Heaven through us, and this is only achieved if we first make our goal Jesus himself and his commands for our lives.

Heaven is a reward given to us after we have done our part building it for others. It is not the goal, but it, along with God himself, are the reward.

More To Explore