We may think of the parable of the sheep and goats as the parable that most closely describes heaven and hell. And that's understandable because Jesus practically says that. He basically says, when the son of man comes he'll divide people like a shepherd separates sheep and goats. Sheep, come take your inheritance, and goats go to eternal punishment. He says this to folks who either helped the poor (the sheep) or didn't help the poor (goats), because if they helped (or didn't help) the poor, they were actually helping (or not helping) God.
If you are a Christian who needs the conviction to help the poor, maybe that parable is exactly what you need to hear today.
But if that one just makes us hate God and turn away from him all together because that's just too harsh, we might not be ready for it yet.
Maybe the parable of the Prodigal Son is a much more compelling picture of heaven and hell for us right now.
You know how the prodigal son wastes his dad's inheritance on indulgent living? And after he has spent it all and finds himself low enough that he's eating food with pigs, he crawls back to his dad, totally humbled, ready to beg for his dad, who he shamed, to let him work with his servants? But his dad is so overwhelmed with love and so happy to see that his son has even come home that he runs to him (not even proper in that culture to run) and throws him an extravagant party. "For my son was lost but now he is found!"
What if eating with the pigs is pretty close to what hell looks like. It is the result of following our immediate pleasures. We find ourselves in a place of poverty and not even able to find satisfaction. And what if what we have to do to find heaven, is to humble ourselves and crawl back to the father. I find this draws me toward heaven very much so, when I think of God like this father that is just so happy that I have turned back to him, that he picks up his robes, runs to hug me, and throws a huge party just because I've chosen to come home.
That sounds like a pretty good heaven.
Raw Spoon. 1-23-19