I’m not sure what exactly lead me to consider the title of a book that I almost read a long time ago called One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven by Mark Cahill. It was at a weekly meeting of Campus Crusade when I was still a Protestant that this book was mentioned, or perhaps it was at TCX. Either way, I thought about it today and considered two things after reading some of the comments on the page linked above: the first being that the premise of the title of the book is faulty, and the second being a misplaced emphasis on the importance of evangelization in our personal salvation.
FLASHING CAUTION LIGHT!!! I did not say that evangelization should not be emphasized, but…
There is a certain brand of Christianity, of which I used to belong, that seems to, both in practice and in word, express the belief that the main point of our salvation is to bring the Gospel to others. This is false. The end game is the Beatific Vision. The Catechism teaches:
Faith makes us taste in advance the light of the beatific vision, the goal of our journey here below. Then we shall see God “face to face,” “as he is.”
The Baltimore Catechism taught that the entire purpose of life is to know, love, and serve God in this life, so that we can be happy with him in heaven.
Now this is not to undermine the importance of evangelization, which is very important and is currently blazing in a beautiful fire of renewal in the Church, and is something I hope to be taking a greater part in over the next couple of years.
This is what the Catechism has to say:
“Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men”: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age.”
Again, though, the purpose of our salvation is to know God here so that we may love him more there. I wish that this had been properly emphasized back in my Evangelical days.
The other thing that I mentioned is that the premise of the title of the book is faulty. Now in full disclosure I openly and readily admit that I have not read the book (nor do I have any desire to). But this post is not really about the book, but is about the premise, which is: that evangelization is something we cannot do in heaven [on a side note, is this position a concession by Evangelicals that intercession of the Saints is possible?].
This is just not true. The largest evangelization event in the history of the world stemmed from a visit from the Blessed Mother in Mexico in the sixteenth century, with over 8 million conversions over the following 10 years. The power to evangelize and convert the world is only heightened in heaven, not eliminated. While most of us will not visit earth after death in an apparition, our power to pray for, and influence the lives of our loved ones and our nations and peoples will be beyond what we can accomplish in this mortal, limited body.
To summarize: I write this to remind us that salvation is first and foremost to reconcile us to God so that we may know him and love him in order to prepare ourselves to spend eternity with him. Evangelism comes second to that fundamental purpose, without which, salvation is entirely a waste of time. And I seek to remind us that in heaven there is no limitation to what we might accomplish for the will of God, that our power to pray for others is strengthened and our ability to speak to the depths of the hearts of the lost is deepened in the abyss of his mercy which makes us like him (1 John 3:2-3).