This paper explores the impact the beatific vision has on the Christian life, taking a handful of practices and experiences as examples for consideration. The beatific vision is a doctrine pregnant with implications for the Christian life. Such implications do not justify the doctrine, nor do they strip it of its ineffable depth. Theology is not practical in the sense that it becomes a service to some daily pursuit. Rather, for creatures who are made for God, theology is practical by definition. This is the singular telos of the human being: his delighted contemplation of God. Theology’s “practicality,” therefore, begins most fundamentally in its tendency to delight the soul that contemplates the blessed Trinity. Therefore, this reflection on the beatific vision and the Christian life does not “justify” its central focus, as if commending the eschatological hope of the beatific vision requires a defense anchored in carnal concerns. If the blessed hope of seeing God is situated properly, it needs no support. It is its own intrinsic defense. Cultivating a soulish hope for the beatific vision is the most practical thing an image bearer can do, given his nature and telos. All other pursuits and concerns, therefore, rightly orbit around the beatific vision.
This reflection offers a handful of examples for how setting our hopeful gaze toward God in the beatific vision illuminates and enlivens the Christian life. Rather than propping up the beatific vision with practical implications, I seek to show how the beatific vision, rightly understood, transfigures the way we engage with concerns on our present pilgrimage. To that end, I will consider how the beatific vision shapes and informs the way we understand (1) prayer, (2) corporate worship (with particular interest in the ministry of the Word and the ministry of the sacraments), (3) sin and sanctification, (4) missions, (5) suffering, and (6) friendship.