C Cycle – 5th Sunday of Easter 19
Rev. 21: 1-5A
John gives us a vivid picture of the New Jerusalem, that place and time when God’s reign will be complete. The earth will be as God intended at the beginning of creation. The early church believed that day would come in their lifetime and here we are still believing it will happen, but we do not have that expectant faith the first Christians had. John not only has a vision that is worth your time to read but he heard a voice from the throne saying, “behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.
This is the final chapter in the story of God with us and the ending is the same as it began – God’s desire at the beginning of creation was to dwell with us and for us to be His people. Think about this for a moment, God has never changed His plan despite our failures, our lack of seeking intimacy with Him or our desire to satisfy our desires rather than follow His plan to give us the Kingdom.
We have learned how the story began and we believe in the way the story will end. What we fail to understand is we are the central part of the story of God and His relationship with us. We know the truth told to John about how God will wipe away every tear, no more mourning and no more pain when God comes. That is the way the story ends but we are currently in the middle of the story now where there is pain, mourning, and all the tribulation of daily life.
With us in the midst this story of God and His people, we cry for God to intervene and take away our pain. When the pain remains, we talk ourselves into believing God is testing us or chastising us. We look for lessons to learn instead of drawing on the strength promised us and continue to trust God’s plan is for our welfare not our demise. Other times our response is doubting God’s promise to be with us until the end of the world (Mt. 28:20). Other times we give in to despair because we fail to seek the strength God promised He would give us to overcome every obstacle (Is. 58:11).
Have we learned nothing from the sin of Adam? Here we are today listening to John tell us what God desires for us now and in the future is no different from that day He created the earth and all its creatures including us.
He created us to be in an intimate relationship with us and to live a life of abundance. Adam and Eve succumbed to the lie that God was withholding something good from them. They doubted God’s goodness So, they took matters in their own hands and that same flaw exists in us today -we take matters in our own hands because we do not believe the promises of God. Our failure to accept the guilt of our sins was paid by Jesus’s death on the cross drives us to seek to appease God for our failings. All that achieves is to keep God at a distance, somewhere watching us but not giving us what we seek each day.
We seek to feel forgiveness for our sins, but we do not forgive those who have wounded us. We seek God when things are going badly in our lives, but we have ignored developing a relationship with Him. We seek to have our fears removed without realizing those fears are present because we do not trust God will respond.
If God desires to be our God and us to be His people, the time to start understanding what that means is now. God is not promising us a life without trials, pain or sorrow. What God is promising us He will always be with us and we will draw on His strength, His joy, His peace and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit so we will always know God is with us. The result will our having total and complete confidence in God so we can overcome all obstacles, never doubting God and without our ever succumbing to despair. Paul’s life is an example of how hard life can be for disciples. Paul’s life is also an example of how those difficulties never cause us to be anything but faithful disciples.