August 25, 2018 • Life for Leaders
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
When I was young, I used to feel uneasy about heaven. I believed, as I was taught, that being with God for eternity would be more wonderful than I could imagine. But as a boy, eternal fellowship with God made me think of an infinitely large auditorium with glowing lights, and the noise of people singing in an endless Sunday service.
I think perhaps that the overwhelming image came to mind because, back then, I associated God’s presence with being in church, and I thought of salvation as an escape from this ordinary world we knew, to something entirely different, extraordinary, beyond the things of this earth. Beyond my sitting in the classroom or my running around the soccer field, the things of my childhood. We’d leave all that behind.
But the image of Revelation 21, one of the last scenes in the Biblical story, renders things a bit differently. In it, God and the Holy City, descend to the new earth to dwell with the people. It’s true that the earth is made new in this vision, so it doesn’t remain exactly as we know it, but earth surprisingly remains center stage.
In this series of devotions, we’ve looked at the importance God placed on the “very good” creation that he made, the way that Christ took on flesh and lived in it, the promise of God’s redeeming all things. From beginning to end, the Bible suggests a straightforward and happy truth, that the seemingly ordinary world we spend our days in is not marginal to God’s story, but central to it. A constant thread, from Genesis to Revelation, is the narrative of God’s good creation—and every little and big thing this term encompasses—and where it’s headed.
I don’t think we can know very many particulars about the world after Christ’s return, but Revelation reveals that in some unfathomable way, the earth—the world God made and deemed good—will be remade. Remade like we are remade, not with a complete eradication of the self, but of a proper restoration.
And this means everything to me, as I live out my everyday life, most elements of which I can only consider ordinary. Because the collection of our ordinary lives, lived out as creatures in the created world, are somehow what God deemed worth making, worth taking part in, worth redeeming, and ultimately, worth dwelling with.
When Christians talk about salvation, we often use the words “new life.” And isn’t life at its core simply meant to be lived? Day in. Day out. With glosses of the extraordinary, yes, but for the most part a sequence of ordinary day after ordinary day. And God walks with us in all of it.
Something to Think About:
How do you envision the new creation promised in scripture? What will make up our days? What sorts of ordinary things do you imagine we will do?
Something to Do:
Take moments in your day—whether while brushing your teeth, typing up an email, or driving home—to remind yourself that these little, ordinary motions that make up your life really do matter to God.
Wonderful God, we’re thankful for your promise of coming to dwell with us, your people. Open our eyes wider each day to see the ways you are at work and present in our lives. Thank you for seeing your creation through to the glorious purposes you have set out for it. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
God Brings the Material World into Being (Genesis 1:2)
Jerome Blanco works at Fuller Theological Seminary. He received his MDiv from Fuller Seminary and his MFA from New York University.