When you consider the Christian view of Heaven it is interesting to note the place of the fruit of the Tree of Life in it. There is an accepted belief that when Christians come to Heaven (whether that be at the moment of death, or at the subsequent second coming of Christ) they will live their without tears, unhappiness or heartache forever.
In part this immortality seems dependent upon the fruit of the Tree of Life – the one that Adam and Eve were prevented from eating when cast out of the Garden of Eden. Now, either humans were more robust then, or the fruit had some lingering effect, because those two worthies lived to ripe old ages in the hundreds of years, as did the few generations after them.
And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."
Genesis 3:22 (NIV)
Heaven it seems will be built on the banks of the river of life that has the fruit growing alongside it.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 22:1-2 (NIV)
Now of course this could all be metaphor, but it is a metaphor that has a powerful purpose as it speaks of dependency.
Many religions seem to think Heaven is all about unlimited power and eternal life without limits. Scientology thinks we become gods, as does Hinduism, Buddhism places us at one with the universe (god?) and it seems tempting to imagine ourselves attaining some level of perfection that makes us immune to normal issues.
But Christianity imagines, or at least paints the picture, of an eternal heaven where we are dependent upon the fruit of the Tree of of Life for our immortality.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Revelation 2:7 (NIV)
It seems ludicrous – what if we forgot to eat some for a week or two? How much can you eat, and what if some glutton gets more than their fair share?
There are certainly all sorts of potential issues with it, but we must remember this was part of a vision and not something given to us to take as a literal prediction of our future experience of Heaven.
What it does give us is an important idea, that even in Heaven we are still reliant upon God for succour and protection. Such dependence is not to be escaped from, but rather is to be embraced!
The Bible talks of what we can take to Heaven with us.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
Love is the greatest thing we take with us to Heaven, and it turns out love is the thing we rely on in the kingdom of Heaven.
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
1 John 4:16 (NIV)
Jesus himself backed up the primacy of love, for God and each other, within the commandments when asked about this by a Pharisee.
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Matthew 22:35-40 (NIV)
So we find that in Heaven we need to love and trust God, because we will rely on His blessings, and that our relationship with Him is the central pillar of our future as men and women made perfect and living forever by the banks of the river of the water of life.