There’s a story on cnn.com this morning about people suffering with a sense of depression after having seen Avatar, the new James Cameron movie featuring an idyllic existence on the fictional planet Pandora.
The article states: James Cameron’s completely immersive spectacle “Avatar” may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora.
To cut down on the irrelevant comments, I haven’t seen Avatar. I probably won’t for a variety of reasons, one being that it is interminably long. My friend Tony twittered throughout it and emerged a much older man. My thoughts this morning aren’t about a movie, but rather about the longing of peoples’ hearts for a world beyond our own.
I’m reminded at times via email and twitter that a fair number of people read this who do not share my faith – and as a result, probably don’t have a grid for the Biblical otherworld that is coming, not in a mystical or metaphysical, pie in the sky sense, but in concrete reality.
For too many decades, the church has portrayed that world as a cloud based harp jam populated by Cupid-like creatures that appear like poster children for that great Hallmark in the sky. No wonder Cameron’s world intrigues people – it involves real beauty, battle, passion and the best of humanity backed by a rocking soundtrack.
In reality, the world to come has more in common with the world we know than most people realize. While redeemed souls certainly go to be where Jesus is right now, the Book clearly says they’re coming back.
When they do, we’re not going to Heaven, but rather Heaven is coming to earth. Jesus will establish a profound, concrete melding of the spiritual and the physical in the form of a thousand year reign that takes place not on a supernova or in between our ears, but on real continents, in real cities and over real men and women.
In that kingdom, you will do work and find it fulfilling (look it up; Adam did work before the curse – it’s the striving that came with sin). You will visit real cities and accomplish real things. Some of you are sitting on dreams and prophetic words that, for all practical purposes, will never happen in this reality – but they will in the next. Possibilities abound given righteous rule, supernatural empowerment, and a millennium to work it out.
In addition to being slightly longer than Avatar, this kingdom will make Pandora pale in comparison. We’ve never seen a ruler who didn’t have at least a sliver of self serving motivation. We’ve not known a moment of peace since the apple was eaten. We’ve not experienced the fulness of knowing God – the smidgen we do know and experience is just a down payment. There’s more. And it’s coming.
Here’s a shout out to James Cameron for reminding us that we were meant for more…even if it makes peoples’ hearts ache a little.
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