What happens to us when we die? Have you reassurance and comfort in the knowledge of an afterlife? Do you sincerely hope that there is a Heaven, yet groan at the very thought of praying to God right now? New research in the US has found that while the belief in God and religion has dwindled since the 80's, more people than ever believe in an afterlife.
When I read the findings from this report, I was confused and saddened, to me, Heaven and God go hand in hand. You cannot have Heaven without God- they're inseparable, synonymous. God created Heaven and Heaven is for real. I've always had a confidence and the sweet assurance of where I am going when this fleeting life ends. But it seems as if our idealistic, 'pick and mix' society wishes to believe in the security and sanctuary of Heaven, just minus the need for prayer, faith and God himself.
Dr Jean Twenge of San Diego State University claimed that the results may be a result of a growing "entitlement mentality...thinking you can get something for nothing". The US are not alone in their beliefs, similar results have been discovered in the UK. According to a survey carried out by the Institute of Education in 2012, 49% of Britons believed there is "definitely" or "probably" life after death. Whereas only 31% said that they believe in God, either without doubts (13%) or with some doubts (18%).
As a Christian, my faith to me is all encompassing-it's what motivates, shapes and defines me, and I resolutely believe that there is a Heaven. This study is just a glimpse of how opinions and beliefs about what constitutes religion and faith has shifted dramatically in recent years. God is not to be obeyed, talked to or wholly believed, you can now pick your favorite verses from the Bible to follow and disregard the ones that don't fit your lifestyle. Heaven has become a stereotypical nice-fluffy-place-in-the-clouds where we float up to when we die.
More than a quarter from the study identified themselves as "fuzzy believers" who either said they believe in an ambiguous higher power but not a specific deity or they vaguely believed in God just some of the time. I often hear many of my non- believing family and friends praying to God and reaching out to a higher power in times of need, illness and despair. We like to think that God is there watching over us, but only when we need him, on our terms and when it suits us best. This survey ultimately shows that only when all is lost, and we die, do we then feel ready to opt in for God's team.
Beliefs of God and concepts of Heaven are no longer married together like they should be. People are choosing what they believe in, who they follow, but only on their requisites and conditions. Human nature innately wants to believe in things which makes us feel at ease and comfortable, soothing ourselves with the thought that death is not the end of our existence. The end and death are powerful, frightening and daunting thoughts to consider, even for people who rely on reason and rationality in their everyday lives. It is no wonder why people, reach out for God in times of need. We understand our fragility as humans in the face of the gravity of death.
To me Heaven is unquestionably real. A place which I put my faith and trust in. "Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20 ESV).
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