New Jerusalem - Permanent Residence

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, February 14, 2013 0 comments

While I don’t consider myself that much of a traveler because I’ve never been overseas and the only lands I’ve been to away from the continental United States and Canada are Haiti and The Bahamas, I have had the privilege of spending time in five of the current six largest cities in the United States, according to population, in New York, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Phoenix (the one I have not been to is Los Angeles). I also spent a week in Toronto, the largest city in Canada. While I prefer majestic mountains and breathtaking scenery to urban areas, I’ve always enjoyed visiting cities for the first time or even repeat visits to ones that I don’t get to see often. I love the uniqueness of cities, depending on their locations and cultures. I loved Toronto because it was remarkably clean and safe for as large as it is. New York is cool simply because of its diversity, history, and landmarks. Chicago and Houston both look massive as you approach them, but have very different cultures and climates. I happen to love the smaller city of Pittsburgh because it is surrounded by mountains, which prevents you from seeing any of it until you are pretty much in it!

What I’ve found interesting about cities, however, is that we generally view them the same way we view everything else in our lives – we complain about what we deal with every day and always think that something else or somewhere else would make us happy! The people who live in the cities I mentioned above generally have lost sight of what makes their city great. I’ll be honest and tell you that the closest big city (over 300,000 people) to where I live right now is Toledo, and I can’t stand it! I have to go there for training every so often and my co-workers and I all complain about it. But I don’t doubt that there are probably things to appreciate about Toledo and that I would appreciate them if I didn’t spend so much time there. This concept really hit home for me on the first of my two trips to Denver, Colorado. I had never been that far west and was excited beyond measure just to see the Rocky Mountains in person. As our plane was landing, I was moving all over the place trying to get a glimpse of them out my window. Meanwhile, the guy next to me was returning to his HOME from a business trip and was complaining about the light dusting of snow they had. He also told me, “The mountains aren’t that big of a deal once you get used to them”. Seriously? Who gets “used to” the Rocky Mountains!

Complaining and failure to appreciate what we have is a poison that affects nearly all of us. It causes us to spend our energy chasing after things, often even “good” things, which do not and cannot fully satisfy. Instead of fixing our eyes on what is eternal, we are caught up in what we see right in front of us and our dreams of what we want and don’t currently have. If you don’t have faith in Christ, you are still searching for that one thing that can satisfy all your needs. But even if you do follow him, many Christians still live chasing after something else. We forget that Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that whoever would drink the water he would give would “never thirst again” (John 4:14a). The idea isn’t that Jesus would give us something that would cause us to cease ever being physically thirsty again, but that a relationship with the God who created all things is only possible through him and the only way to have absolute fulfillment is to KNOW the One who created all things and can provide all things.

For all the traits listed in Revelation 21 that describe the New Jerusalem, by far the most important to know and look forward to is the one that fully satisfies. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (v. 3). When you have the Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, and Provider physically living WITH you, there is no such thing as “need” or “want”. All of the things that we need and want in this life are temporary. It’s difficult to be single and long for marriage, yet those who do must come to grips with the reality that even a spouse and children are not eternal. It’s difficult to watch our bank accounts dwindle down and not have that financial security we all want, but the old adage “he who dies with the most toys still dies” rings true. It’s difficult to leave a place of comfort and venture into the unknown, but a proper eternal perspective reveals that both what we are leaving and where we are going are temporary.

At my church, we’ve been going through a series on the “witnesses” of our Christian faith that are described in Hebrews 11. The one person who is talked about more than any other in that chapter is Abraham. And perhaps the most important characteristic that was attributed to Abraham by the author of Hebrews is found in v. 10: “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God”. The promised nation of his descendants, and their capital city of Jerusalem, would be built with human beings and materials, while only the New Jerusalem in eternity would be built by God.

Friends, it had to be excruciating for Abraham to leave his homeland and comfort, wait for God to tell him where to go, and then settle as an alien in a foreign land. But he was able to do it by faith, not just in God’s character and promises to him while he was still on this earth, but also in his heavenly reward. Abraham believed in his promised earthly inheritance, but it was his ability to see everything in front of him as temporary that allowed him to persevere even when it seemed like God’s earthly promise was in doubt. We know from history that God’s promise to “make (Abraham) into a great nation” (Genesis 12:2) was fulfilled through Israel. But Abraham died way before it came to fruition. You see, his eyes were on the true prize – “the city whose architect and builder is God”. His faithful perspective is what fueled his perseverance and developed his character.

There is another well-known reference in Scripture, that exemplifies our trust in the eternity and permanency of our God, that I would like to end with. I remember President Obama reading it on September 11, 2011 as a comfort for those at the memorial service on the tenth anniversary of the greatest terrorist attack our nation had ever suffered on our homeland. “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day” (Psalm 46:4-5). The sons of Korah, who were the writers of this particular psalm, later urge us to “be still and know that (He is) God” (v. 10).

That’s the challenge for you and me. No matter what it is that we are chasing after in this lifetime, or what it is that is causing us pain and troubles, we must remember by faith that it is all only temporary. On the best of your best days AND the worst of your worst days, remember that something eternal is awaiting you. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, don’t get too high on your earthly joys or too low on your earthly troubles, because you know that everything is short-term on the way to your permanent residence in the place where God himself dwells – the New Jerusalem!