My son-in-law, who is a psychology major, recently went to see the movie Inception … twice. Last weekend, my son, an architect, talked me into seeing the show starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It is still the number one box office attraction in the country. I was surprised to find the theater almost full at 2 PM on a Saturday afternoon more than two weeks after its initial opening. I was also surprised to find a reference to Inception popping up this morning in a newspaper report on the economy. “Inception” is quickly entering mainstream conversation.
“Inception” is a science fiction movie. Like all science fiction, there are holes and gaps in the science. And, like all good science fiction, the fiction feeds the imagination. The science does not have to be validated; it only has to be believable enough for the imagination to take over. And, for those of us willing to let our imaginations run wild, it creates some interesting scenarios.
The plot’s thesis is to plant an idea into someone’s mind so that they change their actions and thereby change the world. Along the way, it raises psychological questions about dreams and the subconscious. It also raises philosophical questions about reality and perceived reality. And, it leaves totally unanswered the questions about what happens to us when we die.
In the dream worlds of Inception, when we die, we just “wake up” at another level of consciousness. But what happens in the “real” world when we die?
This final question, the one about what happens to us when we die, is the critical question that Jesus addressed. He demonstrated that death is not final when he raised the dead to life. This he did with the widow’s son at Nain and with his good friend Lazarus at Bethany. He promised the penitent thief who was crucified with him, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” But he answered the question most effectively by his own resurrection. Luke says, “After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3).
The Bible is very clear about the reality of Heaven. Contrary to the opinion of some that when our body ceases to breathe we cease to exist, the Bible promises a new body in a new reality that supersedes this temporary world. That is largely the reason that Jesus came. The Scripture states, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21).
Of course, Heaven is not the only reality after death. I will write more about that next week.