Here’s the thing. I cannot wait for the New Creation. But not in a good way. Not like a patient child waiting for Christmas morning to come. I’m more like the child who sneaks into mum and dad’s room to open the presents early. In my sin and impatience, I want it now. I literally cannot wait!
Here’s a personal example. I love cars. They are my Achilles heel. Last year, I got the chance to buy my ‘affordable’ dream car. And so I did. Yet, since buying it, it has sat uncomfortably with me. Not because it’s an idol, or it makes me proud or showy. But because in my impatience I could not wait for the good things to come. There are so many more Kingdom minded ways I could have used that money. But I wanted to experience the good things of this world now, rather than wait for the good things that are to come.
Now, God is pleased to bless us materially and gives good gifts in creation for us to enjoy. Yet, I wonder if we consume ourselves with the good things available to us now, because we are too impatient to wait for the good things to come. Instead of setting our minds on things above (Col 3:2), we set our minds on the things that are below. While cars are my particular temptation, as I look around I see the same struggle wrapped up in different colours. We pour so much thought, stress, effort, money, energy and time into our houses, renovations, holidays, and lifestyles… because we have minds set on the things below. We have forgotten that we are sojourners and exiles in a foreign land (1 Pet 2:11), and we have settled ourselves in for the long haul.
So what’s the remedy? How can we cure our consumerist desires? The answer is always brilliantly the same – we look to Christ! In particular, we look to that great inheritance we have in Christ. In Christ we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God (Eph 1:5). This means we have become heirs – ‘heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ’ (Rom 8:17).
In the Old Testament, Israel’s inheritance was the promised land (Exod 32:13, Lev 20:24, Num 26:53, Deut 4:38 etc). This is what they were to look forward to and to cherish. But also the people of Israel were often described as God’s inheritance and possession (Exod 34:9, Deut 4:20; 1 Kings 8:51; Ps 33:12). Living with his people is what God looked forward to and cherished! If you know your Old Testament then you know that Israel’s inheritance of an eternal home in a great land was never quite fulfilled – not because God failed in his promise – rather because God had not yet finished his work of inheriting a people for his own possession.
In Christ, God gathers not only Jews but also Gentiles as his inheritance: ‘but now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ’ (Eph 2:13). Further, it emerges that the ultimate inheritance of God’s people is not some parcel of land in the Middle East. It is far greater than that. It is that great picture we see in Revelation 21 and 22 (do yourself a favour and read it now!). The imagery is so extraordinary that it’s hard to picture, and that’s the point! The New Creation will be so incredible that earthly descriptions do not suffice. How can you describe perfection literally, when we are not yet capable of knowing perfection?
And so here’s my question. If this is what awaits us, why are we so consumed by this creation?
Let me paint an ‘earthly’ picture for us. Picture your perfect house (imagine what it is for you – maybe a rustic cottage, Hamptons beach house or modern mansion), in the most beautiful location (perhaps nestled amidst mountains, or with the ocean at the front door…). If you knew that this was your future inheritance, would you now pour your time and energy into acquiring something far less. You wouldn’t would you? Yet this is what we do! We’ve become so preoccupied with our homes, our renovations, our cars, our holidays. We have become people who literally cannot wait for the New Creation. Yet our future home, our true home, is far greater than anything we can find here on earth or even picture with our imaginations. We will be the people of God, and God himself will be our God and dwell with us forever (Rev 21:3).
So instead of being people who literally cannot wait for the New Creation, let us be people who fix our eyes on Christ. Let us consume ourselves with Jesus, trusting that the good things that are to come are worth waiting for, and are far greater than anything this world can offer us. And let us rest assured in Christ, knowing that God the Spirit himself is the guarantee of our inheritance to come (Eph 1:14).
** Co-released with permission from Gotherefor. Our thanks to Matthias Media for their partnership.