“Will there be Starbucks in heaven?” he asked.
“What in the world?” I wondered, playing the mental chess match of an interview. “Yes, Dr. Q, there will be Starbucks in heaven,” I blurted.
“Why is that?” he quickly responded.
“Shoot! Now defend it…think, Ryan, think.” With pulse rising… “Heaven is not a place we will go to sit on clouds and play harps, sir. Heaven is a place of industry, where we will be engaged in the work God has given us.”
Will the corporation ‘Starbucks’ actually be in heaven? I’m not sure (but if so, hopefully with a different logo than the half naked fairy!). The key is that there will be business and industry in heaven. I don’t believe our daily lives there will look much different, except everything will be perfect and joyful as we work and live wholly in worship of Christ. I’d love to see an illuminated green and white sign on the other side of the pearly gates, but I’m not sure it will happen. But I do hold that we will have coffee brewers and salesmen and all types of corporations in eternity.
On a brisk day in early February of 2011, I found myself seated in that interview at Covenant College. It was only a few months before high-school graduation, and I was trying to lock in a scholarship. The particular scholarship I interviewed for on that brisk morning is known as the Genesis 1:28 Business Scholarship. Above, I referenced a question they asked me during that interview. Will Starbucks be in heaven? Honestly, this is the type of off-the-wall question you expect to receive in an interview, and forget about once your heart rate returns to normal. But for five years now, I have thought about this question every time I look back at Genesis 1.
As the English Standard Version (ESV) translates, Genesis 1:27-28 states,
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created Him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth…And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.
Created, Image, Dominion—three words from this text that stand out every time I read it. God created man. God created man in His own image. God created man in His own image and gave him dominion. According to this verse, we, both men and women, are the image of God. Now, countless books have been written on the topic of the Imago Dei. Thus, a plunge into the depth of what this means would not only be unfruitful in this short essay, but also unworthy. The rich nature of the Imago Dei deserves a much more expansive treatment. So, for this reason, one aspect of this image should satisfy our inquiry here.
What does it mean for humans to rule the earth? In the last phase of God’s universal construction project, He created man. On this sixth day, God found Himself shaping and molding a pinnacle creature in His likeness—that is, the likeness to create. God formed another creator. The pattern of Genesis 1 is one that man continues to follow in as an image-bearer—as a co-creator. The image of God is not only who man is. It is also what he does. Like God, we are creators. Like God, we create. So maybe a more poignant question for me to ask is what do I create? Well, the answer for everyone looks different. As someone called into politics, this looks like researching, writing, and fighting for policy and legislation that brings justice and righteousness to a nation. It looks like waging war against social structures that enslave, as an image-bearer of the one who “sets captives free.” It looks like understanding the history of the world and promoting the welfare and blessing of a nation.
It is critical to understand, for the sake of humility and joy, that this is only one calling of many. The task of the statesman is no nobler than that of the chef who creates culinary wonders, or the designer who masterfully decorates a home, or the academic who writes prolific papers. Being made in the image of God is a calling to reflect the Creator in whatever way He has specifically equipped us. Thus, the command for man to rule is a command for each man and woman to create. As image-bearers of God, each man and woman herself is a creator. So will there be Starbucks in heaven? Your guess is as good as mine. But, I do believe there are men and women who create coffee and create business. So, in heaven, why should this change? Let’s discuss it over a cup of Joe before the throne.
Ryan Burns interns on Capitol Hill and is part of the 2015-2016 Capital Fellows Program.
Photos: FreeImages.com/Lotus Head, Marcos Cornito