David Bowie passed away yesterday and tributes were to be seen all over the internet. I graduated from high school in 1975 so his music was certainly present in my world, although not to the extent of many other musical groups of that era. There are a few of his songs so deeply embedded in my memory that I would recognize them in an instant, but I never bought any of his music, so I wouldn't call myself a fan of his.
Among several of the tributes that I saw this comment grabbed my attention: "Heaven or Hell just got good!" I'm a pastor so those kinds of things seem to "jump out" at me, and this is a comment that contains both truth and untruth, although perhaps not in the way the author understood it. My observations are these:
First, the author believes that there is more "out there," i.e. that there is existence that extends beyond the world we live in and see each day. This is true. The Bible teaches that there is much more than what we see and experience here on earth, and that one day every person who ever lived will know this to be true. There are people today who empathically deny this but the testimony of the Bible is quite clear.
Second, the author believes that there are two options after a person leaves this world, either Heaven or Hell. This is also a biblically-grounded truth. What we might call the final, or eternal, destination of every person on this earth is one of those two places, Heaven or Hell. A person holding to a plurality of religious belief, i.e. "all faiths are basically the same" would disagree, but the Bible's position on only two eternal destinations is, as above, quite clear.
Third is the idea that humanity is what is at the center of Heaven or Hell, represented by the words "…just got good!" This is a complete misunderstanding, at best, of the nature of both Heaven and Hell.
Hell is a place of suffering and wrath. It is the place for the punishment of sin for all who refused to turn, in this life, from themselves and to seek forgiveness from God through the love of Jesus Christ. That God would create a place such as this does not make Him evil. Rather, it maintains His holiness and justice. There is no "good" in this place known as Hell. Should this be David Bowie's destination he is not making everybody's day better through his prodigious musical talent.
Heaven, on the other hand, is a place of complete joy, a joy that is centered at being in the eternal presence of the one who, alone, is Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and praising Him forever. Should this be Bowie's destination, then he is not a celebrity, bringing to the presence of His Lord a musical performance that, by its absence, made Heaven in some way less beautiful. Rather Bowie's presence in Heaven is more like the picture my wife took of the hoarfrost this morning, making something of rich and near-infinite beauty just a bit richer and more beautiful.
Isaiah 55:6-7 writes,
“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
If you don't know Jesus as Savior and Lord, then, as Isaiah says, seek Him today, as you turn from your ways to His. Receive His pardon, know His compassion, and when the time comes when you pass from this world you will know, most certainly in the assurance of His word, the everlasting joy of Heaven.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.