Reuniting With Loved Ones
One of the things we look forward to in Heaven is reuniting with those who have passed on before us. This can be a difficult subject to discuss. However, the Bible gives us encouragement.
King David of Israel was deeply distressed when his newborn son was ill(2 Sam. 12:15-23). David could not eat and did not even get up off the ground. When he found out his son died, he calmed down, much to the surprise of his attendants. King David explained while the child was alive he faced uncertainty about whether the child will live. After his son died, he had certainty and said he will see his dead son in death.
The Apostle Paul said we should not be like unbelievers and be ignorant about those who have passed on(1 The. 4:13). Grieving is normal, but we should not be like those with no hope. Paul did not want believers to think like unbelievers and think the ones we care about are gone forever. God will bring with Jesus those who died in Christ(1 The. 4:14). We should be encouraged by this.
Will we recognize them?
A question comes up of whether we will recognize in Heaven those we knew in life. This implies they will somehow be unrecognizable. This sounds highly unlikely even without consulting the Bible.
The Bible indicates we will be able to identify loved ones. Peter recognized Moses and Elijah, who were long dead, during Jesus' transfiguration(Matt. 17:3-4). Despite the fact Peter could not have known what they looked like since there were no pictures of them, he still recognized them. King Saul recognized Samuel after the witch summoned Samuel from the dead(1 Sam. 28:8-17). Lazarus and Abraham were recognizable after death(Luke 16:19-31). People knew Jesus while He was in His resurrected body(John 20:16, 20, 21:12; 1 Cor. 15:4-7).
Will those we know welcome us in Heaven? The Bible says we will receive a rich welcome(2 Pet. 1:11). Jesus tells us to use our worldly wealth to benefit others, and we will be welcomed into our eternal dwellings(Luke 16:9). We could well be greeted into Heaven by those who helped us with our faith in this life.
Should we desire anyone in addition God?
Will we desire anyone in addition God? Numerous passages emphasize placing God first. Would longing to see others be wrong?
We should not think those we loved on Earth will distract us from God in Heaven. We are meant to have fellowship with one another. God said it is not good for man to be alone(Gen. 2:18). Just like having fellowship with other believers isn't wrong here on Earth, it won't be wrong in Heaven.
The Bible has examples of this. Paul speaks fondly of the Thessalonians(1 The. 2:8,17). He also has kind words for the Philippians and sees no contradiction between serving Christ and being with others(Phil. 1:3-6). Jesus was not distracted by meeting with people here on Earth. None of the prophets or disciples were either. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God, but he also said to love your neighbor(Matt. 22:37-39). He also did not see any incompatibility between the 2 commandments.
Last updated 3/18/2011