So, joy of joys, Frasier is getting a reboot. Sadly, John Mahoney is now dead so won’t be in it and I am led to believe David Hyde Pierce won’t be appearing either. Without Niles and Martin, will it be anywhere near as good? Time will tell, I suppose.
As you probably know, Frasier was a spin-off from the sitcom Cheers. No doubt, when it was first mooted, everyone said the same sort of thing. Will it be as good with new characters? Will the new show live up to the expectations of the old one? In the end, it turned into the longest running English-speaking sitcom that has ever aired. So, it turned out pretty well.
I was never a cheers fan (too young really). So, I had no expectations. In fact, I first got into Frasier when it started running on weekday mornings on channel 4 – telling you it had been going long enough that it really wasn’t considered prime time anymore. I’m not sure I got it as a teenager, but I grew to love it later on. Now I am asking, will a reboot without key characters really live up to the old series?
I think quite a few of us are a bit like this when we think about Heaven. We know there will be a new heavens and a new earth. We also know that it will kind of be based upon the old one. There is going to be a re-creation, so to speak, where the world as God originally intended it to be is brought into existence again. It is, if you like, a reboot of the old series. Only it promises to be better than what came before, not just more of the same old same old.
If we think about it like that, we can be tempted to wonder whether it will live up to the hype. We know there is good in the world as it is, we know despite the problems with which the world is beset, there is much to like and enjoy. Will heaven really meet expectations? Will it be as great as all that?
These things are sometimes not helped by no doubt well meaning Christians wandering into some pretty boring churches and announcing them to be ‘a little foretaste of heaven’. Of course, if those churches are genuinely praising and glorifying God together, in that sense they are right. But in an altogether different sense, it can feel like a serious disappointment. A room full of slightly awkward people, having awkward conversations with each other, singing some out of date songs with little in the way of tune. It isn’t what most of us long for. Those sorts of comments have a tendency to make us worry – is this all heaven is really going to be like?
In a whole host of ways, I think those sorts of comments miss the point. The glorifying of God is like a little foretaste of heaven, but the word ‘little’ does a lot of heavy-lifting in that sentence. And it is the very specific act of glorifying God together that is the little foretaste, a foretaste that also exists any time we glorify God outside of that meeting when – as Paul tells us we ought – we glorify God in what we eat, drink and whatever we do. Some would have you believe heaven is a non-stop church service, except it has the added joy that it never finishes and you can’t go home! I’m not convinced that is many people’s idea of heaven and nor, incidentally, does it seem to be the scriptural view either.
But still, there is the nagging feeling that Heaven won’t live up to the hype. That the reboot might just be a bit disappointing. To quote Frasier, what is a poor boy to do?
The only solution, so far as I can see, is this. We must remember that God keeps his promises. That is simple enough to see as we read scripture and see promise after promise fulfilled. One of the benefits of being a new covenant believer is that we can see God’s faithfulness throughout the covenants, culminating in the coming of Christ, and the fulfilment of various others still. We have ample evidence that God keeps his promises. And he promises that the new creation will be better. If he hasn’t been wrong yet, we’d do well to listen. Just as certain writers and producers have a habit of touching programmes and just making them good, regardless of what it is – making it easy to take a punt on their next project – so God has an unerring habit of keeping his promises. If he has promised a new creation that is better, we have fairly solid grounds to believe him.
It pays to remember that God created the first creation and we were the ones that messed it up. Yet, despite that, we still managed to invent all sorts of cool stuff like the internet and pop tarts and those little things with springs on them that you push down on a table and pop up at you. Loads of stuff. There’s tonnes of brilliant stuff in the world, despite all the sin, sadness and suffering. Things may be broken, but they’re not utterly broken. And this is the world that God says is sub-optimal – it is the equivalent of a remote control that is being held together with duct tape and works a TV whose picture has gone blurry. And still, there is much to enjoy.
The one who made this world – with all the great things in it – tells us this isn’t the half of it. We’ve messed this one up. But he promises that he is going to make a new one. A better one. One that works like it was supposed to with all the great stuff in it that we like now and without all the terrible stuff that our sin has caused. That isn’t, actually, so hard to imagine. And it is based in the promises of the one who always keeps his promises and who is sovereign over all things and in a position to actively make it happen. If we can remember that, I don’t think we need to fear a spin-off dud.
Trusting in God’s promises will avoid scrambled eggs all over our faces.