The most meaningful part of the Lost finale for me and perhaps most Lost fans was the afterlife reunion of most of the show’s main characters, some of whom died in the first couple seasons. One-by-one in the purgatory world the characters are awakened to their connections with each other in their earthly, corporeal lives through physical contact with the person they loved most (a “soul-mate” type relationship) . The catalyst for this awakening is the character Desmond Hume who has an uncanny immunity to the island’s powerful electromagnetic energy and who also possesses a unique dual-consciousness of both realities.
Indeed, biblical visions of the afterlife reveal the centrality of community in eternity. Scripture portrays heaven as a place, not just a state of mind. The image used to describe this place is that of an immense “holy city,” parts of which are constructed of gold and precious jewels. The city is a beautiful, pure place of abundance and joy: “It shone with the glory of God and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel…The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass…The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it” (Rev. 21). It is a place we yearn for, free from the suffering, disappointment, and death that plague this world: “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (21:4). Yet the most important aspect of this city is not its beauty or bliss, but the intimate fellowship its inhabitants enjoy eternally with all God’s people from all nations (i.e. ethnic groups) and time periods, and with God himself: “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (21:3-4). At the center of this city is the presence of God, manifested in “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (22:3). The joy of the inhabitants comes from seeing the Lord in all His beauty and majesty (“They shall see His face”) as we experience the fulfillment of what we were created for – to worship Him. As theologian Wayne Grudem writes,
“When we look into the face of our Lord and he looks back at us with infinite love, we will see in him the fulfillment of everything that we know to be good and right and desirable in the universe. In the face of God we will see the fulfillment of all the longing we have ever had to know perfect love, peace, and joy, and to know truth and justice, holiness and wisdom, goodness and power, and glory and beauty.”
What distinguishes this vision of heaven from other religions’ view of the afterlife is not the beauty, joy, and abundance, but the centrality of God in the consciousness of the inhabitants and specifically of “the Lamb.” A lamb at the center of heavenly existence? Elsewhere in the book of Revelation there is a vision of a vast multitude of angels gathered around the throne of God singing,
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Rev. 5)
This “Lamb of God”is worshiped because of his role in bringing people to heaven: “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (5:9,10). The inhabitant of heaven are not there because they led better lives than others or because they succeeded in atoning for their sins before they died or because they belonged to the right group. God’s people are included into heaven – into eternal fellowship with God – because the Lamb of God was excluded – rejected by both God and man when He was slain for their sins on the cross. By faith in this ultimate sacrifice, people are forgiven and welcomed into this heavenly city. Clearly anyone, no matter what they have done or where they came from, can be included in the family of God forever because of the sacrificial blood of the Lamb.
But at the same time heaven is also an exclusive place: “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (21:7). Sin is excluded from heaven. Evil, darkness, and selfishness are not permitted. Those written in this “book” are not less sinful and broken than anyone else. Rather, their sins are covered and atoned for by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. By faith, they are united in Christ and are thus made as pure and righteous as he is. It is a flawed view of sin that leads the writers of Lost and others to believe that it does not matter what you believe because there are multiple paths to heaven. I will contrast Lost’s view of sin with the biblical view of sin in my next muse on this great show’s finale.