There is an old joke about a man who wanted to take his valuables to heaven with him. He bound them carefully in a package and told his wife he was placing them in the attic right above his bed. He planned to die in bed, and as his spirit soared upward, he was going to pick up the package and take it to heaven with him. The old man did die in bed as he had planned. Sometime later, his wife remembered that he had this plan to pick up his valuables, so she went upstairs into the attic to see if he had been successful. The package was still there right where he had put it. Confronted with this, his oldest son remarked, “Well what he should have done was to place it in the cellar.” Good joke with a bad message.
This is a bad message because it conveys a wrong idea about life after this life. The Bible talks about streets of gold and gates of pearls to get us to understand that being with God brings beauty and rewards beyond what any of us can imagine. It does not mean that we will be in a physical city with real gold used to build its streets. Quite frankly, that would be interesting for just a few hours at the most. Heaven is a timeless existence free of all of the pain and problems of this life. Our feeble minds can’t comprehend the beauty and the joy of heaven.
As I get older, I’m looking forward to not having any more tears, any more death of those I care about, any more sorrow, or any more pain. The promise of Revelation 21:4 means more and more as I experience bad things here on Earth. It’s a good joke with a bad message because it has a wrong understanding of heaven. We need to be reminded that not only is heaven better than anything we can imagine, but hell not a dark place with flaming sulfur (brimstone). Hell is separation from God and all the spiritual blessings of God. However, the fundamental point of the joke remains: “You can’t take it with you.”
— John N. Clayton © 2021