"No one else holds or has held the place in the heart of the world which Jesus holds." -John Knox
“But as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’” -1 Corinthians 2:9
This is the verse that we run to when we speak of Heaven. When we grow weary we recall this verse and remind ourselves that one-day, far off and far away, these things will be ours. It has been plastered on cheese bookstore paintings of heaven and printed on coffee cups doing the same. But as I sat down and read these verses today I have to think that we have gotten this wrong. And in doing so I imagine that we have robbed the Scripture of its power to comfort and empower us.
There is much in the Canon of Scripture that speaks of Heaven. And all of those verses should speak peace to us but I can no longer imagine that this verse is one of those. If all we had was this single verse my declaration would seem silly and extreme, but I fear that we see this verse this way because we have become a people who only read Scripture one Thomas Kinkade picture or Christian coffee mug at a time.
For you see that we must take Scripture in the context of where God saw it fit to place it. And this verse that exclaims that what awaits His people is something that we could not even imagine if told falls not within a passage that speaks to the life to come but the one we now find ourselves. 1 Corinthians 2 is a chapter that speaks of Paul preaching Christ and the Holy Spirit indwelling the people of God to open their eyes to the gospel. So you see this verse does not speak of Heaven, but Heaven’s King.
We have allowed ourselves to tame Christ so much and allow His gospel of grace to become so ‘normal’ to us that we read these words:
“no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
And we think this must speak to something ‘out there’ something that we have yet to grasp. But I pray that we would see that this verse speaks of Christ.
Scripture says that even the angels longed to see and understand that plan of the gospel (1 Peter 1:12). We have downplayed the idea of God Himself making a way to reconnect with us so simple and small that we no longer see it at something unimaginable. We have done this by either making more of ourselves than we should or making less of God than He is. If might play out in other ways but those are the only two roots of this problem. We have become a people than when we read such a verse as 1 Cor. 2:9 we tell ourselves that this cannot be the gospel, and in doing so we tell ourselves, and others, that the gospel must not be that great.
Brothers & Sisters in Christ, may we once again see Christ dwelling with us, caring for us, praying for us, atoning for us, delivering us, reconciling us, adopting us, blessing us as something to be marveled at. May we once again see the Gospel, see Christ, in such a way that tears roll down our face. May we see him as the beautiful and glorified King of all instead of a butler who is just waiting to come when we call.
We were born into sin. We were people who did not become sinners when we sinned but sinned because we were born sinners. We were not neutral towards God but enemies of His. We hated Him. We hated His word, we hated His law, we called Him outdated, we would grab at the wind for anything to tell ourselves that we need not serve Him. He had every right to destroy us all and still be a good and just God. But He, not us, had another plan. He would come Himself to settle this. He would come and proclaim that He would open a way His people. No longer would we be cut off from Him. No longer would we live under the wrath that we deserved but a grace that we could never fathom. He that holds every cell in the universe together (Col. 1:17) allowed us to rip skin, muscle, and tendon from His body with a whip designed for torture and death. He allowed our spit glands to form spit with which to cover His own face. He allowed us to force Him to carry His own cross out to a place called death. He allowed us to nail him to a cross that others had already bled, urinated, cried, defecated, and died on. He hung there and allowed the hordes of hell to torment Him (Ps. 22:12-13). He hung there as the Father poured the entire wrath that should have been poured on His people. He hung there. He bled out. He died. God died. He was buried. But on the third day he proclaimed that death was defeated by coming back to life never again to die. He ascended back into Heaven where even now He prays for His people. He gave us His Spirit to show us who He is, to lead us to Him, to teach us about Him, to help us pray to Him, to empower us to be more like Him. He gave us His word in the Holy Scriptures that we should never be without His words, so that when we pray God speak to me all we need do is open the Bible that other men died for and we take for granted.
He who should have killed us for our treason against His kingdom adopted us as fellow heirs to it. If we really sit back and take this in, I believe that you will agree with me that ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him’ is God Himself. What if we really believed this? What if we came back to the place where we understood that the greatest gift that God has for us is not Heaven, is not forgiveness, isn’t even redemption? What would happen if we truly believed that the greatest gift that God offered us was Himself?