It is admirable when a musician wishes to express his faith through music. The problem is
that modern day musicians are not trained theologically, and thereby there attempts at putting their faith in music do not always come across very well.
Take Justin Moore’s song ‘If Heaven weren’t so far away’; I am not clear as to what the
motivation behind this song was, but the themes are familiar and certainly relatable to most people.
First and foremost, there is the matter of a young man missing his grandfather and reminiscing about when he was alive. Then there is the desire to introduce his own children to the grandfather so that they could meet him and know, presumably, what a great guy he was. There are also others in the song who have died who he would introduce his children to, most notably a cousin who died in war.
The song expresses a great many natural human desires. It is natural to miss a family
member who has died; it is natural to want to introduce later generations to those who had such a profound effect on one’s own life. It is likewise natural to want to show and tell those who have died what their children, grandchildren, etc. are doing now.
The song however conveys a poor theology of what heaven is and where heaven is.
First and foremost is the immediate assumption that everyone who dies goes to heaven. Now I do not know those of whom he refers in any way, but heaven is promised only to
those who have faith in Christ; in turn, those who do not have faith are not saved and ergo, not in heaven. The song says nothing of faith in Christ; in fact it never mentions God at all. For Moore to sing about people in heaven and not detail how they got there, is wrong.
Presumably from the song, everyone goes to heaven when they die; which is not the case.
Another matter that the song leaves unclear is why anyone would want to go to heaven. Ultimately the believer knows that heaven is being in the presence of Jesus for all eternity, removed from the pain and suffering that was experienced on earth, to be in glory for eternity. But from the song, heaven is a far off place where you are separated from loved ones back on earth, not a place of joy and peace. Who would want to go to heaven based on that? Wouldn’t you rather stay on earth and watch your children grow up and play with your grandchildren?
And that gets to the ultimate issue of the placement of heaven. The song’s very title
suggests that heaven is far away; but it also suggests that if one were to move they could be closer to heaven, so that instead of an eight hour drive, it is more like a 20 minute drive. The Bible does not tell us the exact location of heaven, but it does tell us that Jesus is always present with us while we are on earth; and we do have the promise of being united with Him on the Last Day.
That is finally what is missing from the entire song: hope. Heaven is depicted as a far
off land that is not accessible; and in this distant land are all of one’s dead relatives, who if only we could be reunited with them, life would be so much better. That is a very human view of heaven. Actually, heaven is a place where we want to be, a place where we want all people to be. Heaven is being in the presence of Jesus for all eternity. The reality of heaven and the hope that it gives us, is far better than going and spending the afternoon
with a relative who is already there.