I don’t want to spend forever doing anything, much less praising God.
I’ve heard various versions of this complaint, but the basic notion is that an eternity doing anything – no matter how varied or pleasurable – is too much, and either the monotony or endlessness itself cannot be desirable. After all, what in the world (or out of it!) will we actually do for an infinite amount of time? I have two responses to this complaint, and I’ll tackle the more superficial one first.
I used to wonder if there is an analogous situation to competition in Heaven. I love playing basketball, for example, but I honestly can’t imagine that there is basketball in Heaven. If everyone has a unique set of talents and gifts, then I presume they will be exercising those in pursuit of bringing glory to God and allowing Him to take pleasure in the magnificence of the creation of each of us. What place, then, is left for competition? I enjoy playing basketball, but I will never claim it is one of my greatest talents, so I will probably be doing something else. And competition assumes that there are varying levels of ability, and it is rising above one’s ability or finding a way to leverage something else (like strategy) in order to win. And then there’s the trash talk, which is really just as much fun. Am I to believe that I’ll block a shot on the golden court and strut the other way down the court?
Even for a Christian, the question of what we will do with all that time frequently arises. What can be known for sure is that God is the source of all good, and so apart from Him we cannot experience any positive feeling, activity, or moment. Possibly there is something very basic about competition that people enjoy, and so it is the fullness of that root cause that will be experienced in Heaven, albeit on a grander and deeper scale. However, the God who created each of us gave us particular gifts that we will exercise to His pleasure and honor, and I can imagine how there could be a process of perfecting (literally) those gifts in a way that brings immense gratification and enjoyment to each of us, just as it does Him. As Eric Liddell said in Chariots of Fire: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”
We will spend eternity worshipping God, but for those who love Him, it will be a fulfilling and glorious act. For those who reject Him – directly and consciously – they will be given their wish and be separated from Him. This will entail being separated from the source of all good, happiness, and pleasure, but Heaven would be Hell for one who hates God.
Of course, the more fundamental issue is whether the complaint has any validity in the first place. If we are eternal beings by design, then it does not particularly matter whether we want to live forever; as souls, we will do so regardless of that desire. Our choice rather is how we will spend eternity, rather than if we will. While I often question what I will do with all that “time,” it seems very important to ensure at the outset that I position myself so that whatever I am doing, it will be a source of joy and peace. Christ has offered us that possibility, and those who know and love Him understand that in Heaven, what brings Him joy and what will bring us joy will be the same thing.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
– Ephesians 1:18-19