Over the years, Sears has spent countless time and money creating its “Christmas Wish Book.”
Think about all the planning, picture taking, organizing, printing and delivering effort it takes to put that catalogue out each year (especially back in the pre-computer days). Why did they do it?
Obviously, Sears knew one thing: pictures matter. A picture may be “worth a thousand words,” but in retail, a picture is also worth a few thousand sales. That is why you receive flyers at your door each week. Retailers know that if they can get you to see their item, then you will likely be more interested in it.
Of course, that strategy worked. As a child, I would spend hours looking at the toys in the Wish Book and then even more hours bugging my mom to buy them for me. In particular, I remember a blue and yellow remote controlled airplane. I stared at that picture for so long that even 33 years later, I think I could recreate that airplane in exact detail. Pictures matter!
The Biblical writers also knew the value of pictures, even if theirs were word pictures. One of their favourite subjects to show was Heaven. Consider this description from Hebrews 12:22-24: “You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood.”
Can you imagine the “city of God?” Can you see “thousands upon thousands of angels?” Can you feel the joy of their worship? (By the way, how did we ever come to decide that anything churchy had to be funeral-like, when every Biblical picture of heaven is about joy and celebration?)
Can you see your name written in the book of life (Revelation 20) and the God who is just waiting for you to come home? What do you think God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the angels look like?
Even if the image that you come up with is somewhat inaccurate and inadequate (no earthly words or images will do justice to spiritual things), it is important to have a picture of heaven, because pictures are motivating. Dreaming of something now will cause us to alter our today so that our dream comes true tomorrow.
What does heaven look like to you?