Seeking the City that is to come
We are told in Hebrews 13:14 that Christians are people who know and believe in the depths of their heart that “here” on this present earth, in its present form, “we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14). Continue reading . . .
We are told in Hebrews 13:14 that Christians are people who know and believe in the depths of their heart that “here” on this present earth, in its present form, “we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14).
He’s not saying that we should despise Oklahoma City or whatever city you call home. He’s not suggesting that we treat it with contempt or even benign neglect. He’s not saying that we shouldn’t work and pray for its improvement. Of course we should.
Rather, he’s saying that any and all earthly cities are temporary. They won’t last forever. He’s saying that we shouldn’t become so attached to our current earthly home and the comforts and blessings that it brings us that we live in constant fear of losing it all. He’s saying that we shouldn’t become so dependent on what this current city can give us that we become greedy and self-absorbed and indifferent to the needs of others.
The point is that whatever possessions or property we own in this city or whatever importance we place upon it should all be held loosely, in an open hand, as it were. He’s saying that our values and the way we relate to people and the way we use our money and resources should reflect the fact that we know another city is coming, a city that will last forever, a city in which we will dwell with God in unbroken bliss and fellowship and joy forever and ever. He’s talking, of course, about the New or Heavenly Jerusalem that will come when God renews this present earth and rids it of all corruption and sin and pollution and evil.
So, observe again the words of Hebrews 13:14 –
“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”
I think we’re all in agreement that neither Oklahoma City nor New York City, or any other city on the face of the earth, is permanent. But what does the second half of the verse mean? What does it mean for us to “seek the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14b)? I think it means that our hope is not invested in what we can gain now in this present city on this present earth. It means that we consciously seek to have our beliefs reconfigured in conformity with the principles and values and truths that will be found in that eternal city that is yet to come.
You see, it’s one thing for you to read v. 14. It’s something else altogether for you actually to make practical adjustments in how you live because you believe it to be true. Most people who think of themselves as religious or perhaps even as Christians know what v. 14 is saying, but are unaffected by it when it comes to changing their beliefs and values and what they cling to or conversely hold loosely in an open hand.
So do you believe v. 14? Really? If so, what difference does it make in decisions you make each day. What difference does it make in what matters most to you and what you are willing or unwilling to sacrifice? If you and I are genuinely seeking the city that is to come, how does that affect our use of money and time and energy and what we do to win and retain the respect of others?
I seriously doubt if there is anyone reading this article, myself included, who has been approached by a friend or family member or co-worker or neighbor who then said: “You know, I’ve been watching you. I’ve been listening to how you talk. I’ve carefully observed how you interact with other people, especially those who treat you like dirt. I’ve watched how you spend your money and what you do with your time. I’ve eavesdropped on your interactions with your spouse and your kids. And I’ve finally figured it out. You believe Hebrews 13:14, don’t you?”
Although I strongly suspect this has rarely if ever happened, it should. So let’s ask ourselves yet again: What would my life look like if I sincerely believed that here I have no lasting city? What kind of choices would I make if I genuinely believed that the only lasting or eternal city is yet to come? Now, that’s a question worth pondering.