14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
In these strange times, I have come out of blogging retirement and wanted to share with any Harbor family and friends some thoughts to keep us zoomed into God’s unshakeable word. This passage is from our Harbor Bible Reading plan (technically its yesterday’s reading) found in Hebrews 13:14-16.
In times of mass pandemic, which by the way, is nothing new for this world, Christians have often found great comfort in the hope of a new city. The “city” referred to is not a city which we build with human hands, but one that “is to come” when Jesus returns. In Revelation 21, we see Jesus descending from heaven and bringing the heavenly Jerusalem down to earth. So….this heavenly city doesn’t stay in heaven forever, but very much comes down to Earth! Its physical and tangible. We pray now, as Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.”
In some ways we borrow the phraseology of workers on strike who claim, “What do we want ? This city….When do we want it? Now!” We don’t settle. We long for, and we pray for, more of God’s will done perfectly in heaven, to come down to earth.
While we may borrow the phraseology of those on strike, Christians have a different attitude than striking workers. Instead we lift up our prayers, not in anger, but in lament and desperate petition. We lift up our voices in songs as we gather (even if online), but also as we sing when we scatter in praise (vs 15). There’s no greater sound than hearing one of my children sing the songs during the week that we sung that Sunday. We say “How long O Lord,” but we also do so in thanksgiving for Jesus’ sacrifice, that we can be assured of this city and our place in it through repentance and faith.
Finally, we act nothing like striking workers. With our hope fixed on the city that is to come, we don’t stop working, we continue to love our cities and neighborhoods where they are and for what the could become. We love people where they are, and are hopeful of what they could be. It has been noted that those who think most deeply about the city that is to come, actually do the most good in their cities and neighborhoods where they currently find themselves. I see this in my neighborhood, and we see it throughout history. In addition to praise, we are instructed in verse 16, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
One of the most “spiritual” or “heavenly-minded” things you can in that city is to tangibly do something good for your church family AND your neighbors around you. How appropriate is this verse today, when hoarding is so common, when toilet paper is rare? In the words of Seinfeld, “Can you spare a square?” Let’s find ways to do good and to share with each other. It may not be your presence unless you are 6 feet away, but it could be your words via text or phone call or video conference. It could be your service. Let’s get creative. Remembering the city that is to come is the best thing you can do for your church family and neighbors during this season.