11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp.
12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.
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.
What do we seek? What is it we are going after? What’s the goal, here? Where are we heading?
These are all questions we ask of ourselves, our church, our families periodically. As we try to answer, we come face to face with the fact that we are incredibly results driven. In striving for those results, we are impatient, wanting the results and benefits immediately. Who doesn’t?
The passage above reminds us of two things:
1) God has a goal, direction, purpose in mind for His people.
2) God cares about how we arrive, because the process of “getting there” indicates whether or not we will ever arrive.
Verse 14 makes it clearest: “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” We are to be seeking a city to come. That seeking is based in a very real, here and now view that we have no lasting city here. So, God’s desire for His church is to pursue life now as a sojourner pursuing the lasting city of God, dwelling with Him forever.
This should shape absolutely everything we do in the church. We should even use it as a litmus test for effective ministry and programs. We capture is view in our passion statement: Glorifying God by treasuring Christ above all things and reaching others that they may find lasting joy in Him. Those who have lasting joy in Him, actually want to see Him. This is marked by people who treasure Christ above stuff and people. This is our battle. This is our congregational fight. This is a primary point in our worship — a battle cry against unbelief, promoting joy for Christ alone.
So, there is no separation. If we love our earthly life and just give a doctrinal or song-like nod to Christ’s return, our action and treasure speaks the truth. This is my battle. In the most mundane aspects of our lives, this intersects.
I’m inundated with looking for a large SUV after our wreck a few weeks ago. We have been blessed to have transportation, but we are without a car in our name. This shopping has been different than other times I’ve looked for a car. Most of the time I’ve gotten the 2 year itch with a car, seen something I like, and figured out a way to sell my current car to get the “new” 100k mile vehicle. Looking for a car when I have to and need to has lost it’s luster. I’ve also found that my praying for a car is easier and with a clearer conscience because it’s not from discontent, simply a need.
In all of this, I have reflected a bit on the circumstances that have led to my needing a car right now. I don’t overly dramatize our wreck. It was head on, without brakes, and could have been much worse. I am ever grateful for safety. Nonetheless, I’m left with a reflection of these very truths. One day I am going to see Jesus Christ face to face. I should be living with that day as my pursuit, and every moment should show that my treasure is to see my Christ. So, like Paul, while I’m here it should be for your sake, to promote Christ and his gospel. Then, when God chooses to take me home, I desire that to be the natural outworking of what’s been evident during my days of earthly breathing.
Notice the bookends in this passage: the gospel and worship. Only the gospel brings joy and life. Only the gospel yields true worship. And the worship prescribed is here and now. Basically, in light of the fact that we are looking for the lasting city, we are to worship now! Wait, isn’t that what we will do for eternity? Yes. But has eternal life not already begun in a sense? We are to put the gospel on display in praise, for it is the source and result of praise.
This all makes sense, doesn’t it? We have no lasting city apart from the gospel. The lasting city will be filled with the praises of the redeemed. People are redeemed to be worshippers. May we seek the lasting city as those who feel nothing lasting about this world, treasuring Christ above it all so that our greatest joy is praise in the mean time until fully realized when faith will give way to sight!