If Heaven Is a World of Love
Back in 1749 Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon called, “Heaven Is a World of Love.”
As with the Puritan way, the title of the sermon describes the doctrine that Edwards expounds, which he derives from 1 Corinthians 13:8 — “Love never fails.”
Edwards says that at the end of time, in the new creation, the Spirit will be given to the church “more perfectly and abundantly” than he is right now, and that the way the Spirit will be more abundantly given is by “holy and divine love in the hearts of all the blessed inhabitants of that world.” Because we will comprehend more of God’s love — which will be the “fountain of love” all around us — we ourselves will have more love for one another.
In sum, more of God’s love understood by his people means more love expressed through his people means more love everywhere. Therefore, heaven is a world of love.
Then I was sitting outside a couple weeks ago when the sun was just coming up, and I was drinking a cup of coffee, and I was reading Psalm 103.
And I was looking up at the heavens, and they are a long ways from the earth — the sky really just keeps on going — and it occurred to me why God made it that way: it’s because he wants his children to know the greatness of his love.
And in that moment, when I was looking up at the sky, it must mean that God wanted me to know the greatness of his love.
And then I heard some birds singing, and I remembered Jesus says that God the Father knows every time a sparrow falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29), and therefore, wherever that bird is that I hear singing, one day it will fall, and God will know it. Jesus says so. God knows about that bird.
And if God knows about that bird, and if he also knows how many hairs I have on my head — like Jesus also says (Matthew 10:30–31) — then God must know that right now that bird is singing and that I hear it.
So then why?
Why is that bird singing, and why do I hear it? It’s because God wants me to know the greatness of his love. He wants me to know that I have a Father in heaven who cares for me more than he does the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, both of which are doing just fine by the way.
So, get this: we don’t need to see the sky, and we don’t need to hear the birds — who we need is God and his love. And God in his love made the sky and the birds so that we can live in hope.
One of the reasons that we can know Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 is not a pipe-dream is because the entire world is filled with the content of God’s love for his children. Indeed, there are more dimensions of God’s love for us to comprehend, and the insight into that love is all around us.
If Edwards is right and heaven is a world of love, then earth is a world of hope. Holy Spirit, open our eyes.