In CS Lewis’ classic book, The Great Divorce, people in hell are given a chance to take a bus ride to the outskirts of heaven. As the travelers get off the bus, they’re surprised to find that the blades of grass are like iron.
But it wasn’t that the grass was different in heaven, grass was still grass.
It was the people who were different. They discovered that, all along, they’d been wispy, ghost-like, shadows of their true selves. They were given a second chance to cast off whatever sin had held them back in life and continue their journey. In heaven, they would become their truest and best selves.
In the popular imagination, heaven is a place where people float on clouds, a place where people are less real.
But in Lewis’ imagination, heaven is where we become more real.
The pandemic exposed how wispy we are. We became more fearful, more prone to conspiracy theories.
Jesus Christ was born into the world a real person. You could see him, hold him, smell him. You could feel the scratch of his beard on your cheek when he kissed you.
He changed the name of his friend Simon to “Peter,” saying “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.”
Jesus gave us the church to get real.
We only become people of substance through Jesus Christ.