This week at Christ Church PCA, we will celebrate our annual missions Sunday. Reverend Al Baker will join us and will preach from Zechariah 2:6-13. In verses 10-11 of that passage, the prophet of the Lord tells the people of the Lord, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.” It is His promise to dwell among His people, and His declaration that the people whom He will dwell among will come from many nations. It is to this end that we engage in missions. It is to this end that we live the Christian life. With that perspective in mind, let us look to Revelation 21:1-3 to consider this end.
Thursday, February 6th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Revelation 21
Focused Passage for Reflection - Revelation 21:1-3
Reflecting on the Text:
I recently spent time with a friend who had experienced a fairly severe health scare within the past year. As we talked, my friend shared with me how he has gained a new eternal perspective as a result of coming face to face with his own mortality. This friend (who also happens to be a pastor) acknowledged that he has lived most of his life without giving practical thought to the eternal. Yet now, given the tangible reality of death, he was now enjoying a new perspective on life…particularly in light of life eternal.
As I listened to my friend, I realized my own temporal horizon. As I write, I wonder about yours. Do you live in light of life eternal? And whether or not you spend time focusing on heaven, what is your perspective of eternity? In other words, what are you most looking forward to about heaven?
The truth is, we don’t know a lot of the details. Regardless of what we hear in pop culture, Scripture doesn’t give us a detailed “day in the life” agenda for heaven. There are clues, however. The Apostle Paul would not share about the revelation he was given in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, but would only describe it as a paradise of which he would not dare speak. Yet the book of Revelation tells us more, particularly in chapters 21 and 22. And in 21:3, God describes the New Heavens and New Earth as the place where He will dwell among His people.
The images given to us there of the holy city are glorious. The promises of no more pain and death are a salve to our fallen bodies and souls. But how about the promise of intimate and eternal presence with the Father? Is this the promise you are anticipating in the New Heavens and New Earth? It is the promise God repeats throughout Scripture… “I will be their God and they will be my people.” It is the promise of relationship, and in Revelation 21:3 we see that this promise is not of a long-distance relationship. He will dwell among us!
This is the goal of the Christian life. Is it the goal that you have built your Christian life around? What first drew you to Christianity (understanding that the Spirit of God is the One who ultimately draws us)? Was it the fear of Hell? Was it some promise of earthly peace and prosperity? Or, was it a Holy Spirit given taste of the goodness, truth, and beauty of God expressed through the gracious, reconciling love of Jesus?
I ask these questions because I believe the Word of God asks them of us. I also ask them of you because as I’ve been spurred on by my friend’s new eternal perspective, I’ve asked them of myself. We all struggle to see beyond the horizon of today. We all struggle to gain a perspective of the Christian life beyond the physical and emotional needs of the moment. But the Scriptures invite us/point us to more. The Scriptures give us a picture of eternity where God is dwelling among His people.
Make no mistake, I believe the God of the Bible is very much concerned with the daily needs of His people. His Word commands us to pray about those daily needs. But maybe part of the comfort He brings in the daily struggle is to give us a vision beyond the daily…so that we may live with an eye toward the eternal. In a week when we are focused on missions, and on mission, let us develop an eternal perspective. And let that eternal perspective of God dwelling among us shape the way we view our lives and our evangelistic proclamation.
Questions for personal reflection:
How does “God with us” change your view/expectation/experience of the Christian life?
How does “God with us” impact your view of the goal of evangelism and missions?