In light of that, I wanted to my third part of my sermon on on the "Place" of Evangelism. (Here is the first sermon.) From last time, I started to explore the question, what should the "House of the Lord" look like? And using the metaphor of a home, I likened the church to three parts of the home: 1) the front yard, 2) the inside, and 3) the view. (Click the link below if you want a review) 1) The Frontyard: An Attractive Fruit Garden 2) The Inside: An Inviting Feast of the Words of Jesus 3) The View: The Majestic New Jerusalem on Mt. Zion
The View: The Majestic City of God on Mt. Zion
So if the Church is a house, we have a fruit garden in the front, a feast of Christ's word inside, is that it? And I would argue there is much more.
When we were doing fundraising, we visited a house that once you entered, the first thing you saw was not the beautiful living room, spacious kitchen, or the huge dining room. There were these huge windows and you would look past everything in the house… and all you see were beautiful mountains. And sometimes you'd be eating, talking, sitting…. And sometimes you would look out and say to yourself-- "Wow, those are beautiful mountains"--then carry on with whatever you're doing, but with this spirit of awe in you.
The Heavenly City is our home--not the church on this earth.
I think the House of the Lord is the same way. The House of the Lord is a place of feasting, a place of fellowship, and a place of activity. But the point is not to merely look at the House of the Lord or the people inside of it. he House of the Lord has these HUGE windows and what you can see is the Mountain of the LORD and on top of that is the City of God. And as you eat, talk, rest, and do things in the House of the Lord, from time to time, you stop and look at to the City of God and say:
"Wow, that’s a beautiful city. I forget that this House of the Lord is my temporary home. This feast is just a sample of the feast in the City of God. My King will pick me up one day and bring me there to join the most wonderful Wedding Feast. I'm so excited." Then carry on with whatever you're doing with a spirit of hope, expectancy, joy, and awe.
I get this thought from Ezekiel 47:12 as well: Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary.
We receive the wonderful nutrients of the river and we bear much fruit. However, we always remember that this Word of God, this river is not the source. The source is the sanctuary--the Temple of God. The source is the sanctuary in Heaven itself. Basically, wherever we are on the river, we always look upstream to Heaven. We are a people marked with the hope of heaven.
Our heavenly hope makes us live 'alien' lives.
Again, let me say this--this point is not a point that is disconnected from point 2 or point 1. Our view of Heaven is what motivates us to go to the Word and bear fruit. Clearly, our view of heaven propels us to live lives bearing fruit.
Col. 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Also, like the two other points, it is not disconnected to the concept of Evangelism. When we keep our eyes fixed on the City of God and the King enthroned there, we live lives that are completely different from this world. Living lives of righteous that cause suffering to us and our families. If you read Peter's call to the Christian life in 1 Peter 2-3, it's other worldly! But then did you notice how non-Christians talk about this life? Did you notice there what non-Christians talk about?
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
"What is your hope?" is the question we get from non-Christians. What are you looking forward to when you live righteous lives and suffer for Christ? They ask not about the content of our Christian beliefs but they ask about the desires and hopes of the Christian. Our entire lives should be marked by our hope. Our constant view of the Majestic City of God.
Abraham also had this hope--which allowed him to suffer and sojourn for so long.
Heb. 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
Heb. 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
When they see you, do non-Christians, or anyone for that matter, do they see a sojourner of this world, desiring a better country, a heavenly city, their homeland? Or do they see people completely satisfied with this broken world and making a permanent settlement here?
Again, anybody can tell what your hope is by observing how you talk, how you spend your money, how you use your time, how you suffer, how you read the Bible, how you pray.
In the House of the Lord, do we have giant, clear windows that make it so clear to us and so clear to the world, that we do not look forward to this world, but to the City of God on Mt. Zion?
Sometimes we're so focused on what is in front of us, so worried about how small or how insufficient the "House of the Lord" (i.e. the Church) to the point that we keep using using our weak, gloomy, and depressing artificial room lights. We forget to open the curtains wide open and bask and enjoy the shining glory of Mt. Zion and the King of the New Jerusalem--Jesus Christ! May our worries dissolve into the shining light of our heavenly hope. Although we may not celebrate Christmas in our 'normal' ways due to COVID, but may our hope for heaven be unfazed and our desire for heavenly home be 'other-worldly' during this Christmas season.