Summary: We really do need each other.
WE REALLY DO NEED EACH OTHER
OK – pop quiz time. Help me fill in the blanks.
Every Christian needs to have ___ types of relationships in their life. (3)
• You need a _______ – someone further along the journey than you. (mentor)
• You need a _______ – someone to journey with. (fellow-traveler)
• You need a _______ – someone in whom to impart your experiences and spiritual insight. (mentee)
Sometimes we need to be reminded that “church” is plural. Even in the New Testament epistles “you” is often plural.
Last week we began looking at the final two chapters of this wonderful book. We discovered, yet again, that John’s primary goal was not to offer a blue print of the final days of this world but, rather, encouragement for living in the trying days of “today.” This book is for every generation’s day and time; just like the remainder of the Bible is.
This is made rather clear with his use of present active participles in chapter 21. “Coming Down” (21:2) is a great illustration of this. By using this tense for the words John implies that arrival of the New Jerusalem-at least in some preliminary way-is a present reality.
Is there a day of consummation coming? Yes. I truly believe that, BUT WE ARE NOT EXPECTED TO WAIT FOR THE SWEET BY-AND-BY. WE ARE INTENDED TO; AS MUCH AS IT IS POSSIBLE WITH US, MAKE THIS A SWEET HERE-AND-NOW.
John understands God’s consummation to be a purifying of the present earth. It will be restored to its original design as seen in Genesis 1-2. Sin and corruption will be put away forever through the victory of Christ and God will make “all things new!!!!” – not all new things (21:5).
John uses relational language. He uses marriage and urban (city) life to describe what living in God’s presence is like. Again, it is not that God’s presence is something we long for and wait for it is something we experience in the “present active” sense. God dwells with man NOW through His Spirit and in His church.
Among other things, John wants us to understand what it means to be and become the People of God.
According to John’s imagery of “city,” WE REALLY DO NEED EACH OTHER!
• Cities require dependency and interdependency – Babylon corrupts this while the New Jerusalem perfects it
• Cities create a specific and unique communal identity – Babylon corrupts this while the New Jerusalem perfects it
• Cities create specific obligations for its citizenship – Babylon corrupts this while the New Jerusalem perfects it
• Cities create privileges and conveniences – – Babylon corrupts this while the New Jerusalem perfects it
Can I tell you a story?
Dr. Reuben Welch was the chaplain at Point Loma Nazarene University. He was also a New Testament professor there. Occasionally he would teach a summer school course titled “Group and Interpersonal Relations.” As a close to the course there was a tradition of taking a hike together; three miles up the side of a mountain to a beautiful lookout called “Hennigar Flats.” At the top the class has lunch and then make their way back down. It is their final activity as a group.