A lot of people of a certain view have long made the claim that hell is other people. That is one of the most clearly untrue statements I’ve ever heard. Heaven is where there will be other people, if I’m ever in hell, Heaven forbid, I’ll be on my own. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying I’d be the only person in hell, but we won’t be together. As Brandon and I were saying on this week’s pod, everything in revelation and creation points to the fact that sin brings isolation and grace brings community.
In our nature, the way we’re created, we’re communal. We are created in the likeness and image of a Triune God, a community of three persons who are one God. That is what we are created to reflect: distinct, individual persons who are most themselves with others. I’m pretty ok, all in all, but very limited. The number of things I can’t do, or that I’m not good at, is longer than the list of things I can do, and especially that I can well. This is no false humility, there are a lot of things that are strengths for me, the number of skills that are out there to be developed and mastered is just far too vast for one person. Instead, I am called to community, to put my talents at the service of others and allow others to serve me as well.
Heaven will be communal, and we’ll be fully ourselves in God’s presence. Hell, on the other hand, is, first and foremost, a rejection of God. Take a quick trip back to that previous paragraph with me. We, humans, are created in the image and likeness of God. If hell is to be a rejection of God, it’s also going to be a rejection of His image and likeness. Our sin, ultimately, is an attempt to place ourselves in the position of the Ultimate, to be our own mean, little gods. The only way I can claim the role of supreme, at least with certainty, is if there are no other options. Being with others would be a threat. Heaven, on the other hand, is where we know our value, and so others are to be celebrated rather than viewed with suspicion as a challenge to our own existence.
Heaven, our ultimate destiny, the goal we are created to achieve, shows that we don’t only need one another, but proves that, at our very core, we want one another.