Yesterday, at New Eden Fellowship, Franklin gave a message concerning the “Big Picture”. For his primary text, he used a section from the end of the book of Revelation. I quote a part of it here, although his text started with verse 1 and went through verse 5.
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. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4 NIV
There’s a lot of debate among Christians as to how literal to take the book of Revelation and there’s a lot of degrees to that. However, that debate aside, this particular passage is important for one thing: it tells us the end of the story. We know how it all turns out. We know who wins. And we know what things are going to be like at the end.
But something really curious here. If you check the story of God, there are all sorts of references scattered about concerning the promise that God will be among his people. Check out Matthew 28 verse 20.
“…and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
It’s interesting, really. There seems to be, when thinking about God and his presence and so on, a subtle undercurrent of “Yeah, he is with us, but we really won’t know what it feels like until the End Times”. But here we have Jesus saying, not “I will be with you sometime in the future” but “I will be with you always while you do this stuff…now.” He is our God, we are his people, and he dwells among us. “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am with you”. “The Kingdom of God is here”. “Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” All these imply an immediacy to the presence of God among us.
This is mind-blowing, if you think about it. There will come a day when the entirety of creation will be remade and renewed in a way that God’s presence will be felt everywhere. But here and now, we who know God, can already experience what that feels like because it is already here.
This changes the whole story. Instead of living like things won’t get better until Jesus comes back, we have an opportunity to live like it right now. In the midst of things like chronic illnesses, war, poverty, hunger, financial uncertainty, we can live like that new heaven and new earth are in place already and to do what we can to make it a reality. We can live today as if the end is already here. We can wipe away tears, give hope, bring joy, relieve pain, and preach the news that the King of the Universe is here and ready to relate, today.