It is said that Johnny Cash, having been asked what his idea of paradise was said, “This morning, with [June], having coffee.” You may say that is true love epitomized. I call it a kinder, gentler version of the life view that almost destroyed Johnny Cash with drugs and alcohol. “Paradise” in the mind of many -- including Mr. Cash, evidently -- is nothing more than earthly joy writ large.
I have a problem with that. A big problem.
I realize that “paradise” has acquired a casual usage in our lexicon. Still, I believe in accuracy. And “paradise” is, by definition, not of this earth. It has not been since the events recorded in Genesis 3.
“Paradise” (and that’s with a capital P) is mentioned three times in the Bible — Luke 23:43, in Jesus’ conversation with the thief on the cross; 2 Corinthians 12:4, with reference to the heavenly vision there described; and Revelation 2:7, in Jesus’ promise of eternal reward for His faithful ones. It is not metaphorical. It is real. It exists. And it does not and did not exist in Johnny Cash’s kitchen.
The idea, however poetically expressed, that heaven offers nothing better than our best experience on earth is heresy. It is blasphemy. It is parallel with Matthew McConaughey’s vision of his dad drinking Miller Lite on the front porch with God.
Heavenly things should not be couched in earthly terms, and vice versa. The less you talk and think about your “paradise” on a tropical island, a mountain hideaway, or a calm river with your fishing gear, the less disservice you will give to the real “paradise” that awaits the faithful.