Devotional Thoughts for Today
“The World to Come”
Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV)
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
One of my favorite pastimes is engaging my imagination in musings about the world to come. I love imagining what eternity might be like! Most of us have learned about what it is Jesus saved us from. We know intimately our own sin and the brokenness and dysfunction of the world around us. Some of us have even learned what we think God intended before things went wrong in the beginning. But how often have we been taught or challenged ourselves to think seriously about the nature of the new world God is now making (Revelation 21:5)?
We are not just saved from something but to something—ultimately to Someone (God) and some place (New Heavens and New Earth)—but also to a new reality of life together that we can begin to taste and sense even now. We get glimpses of it throughout Scripture and sometimes see it in the life of the Church—not just in the four walls but in the places where the people who are God’s are living into love that is God (1 John 4:8). So, what will this new world and new life together be like?
One thing that exists in the Kingdom of God (in this new way of life) is that difference is no longer a point of contention or distinction a point of exclusion. All are one in Christ. A friend once explained to me how she just assumed in heaven we’d all be the same—same ethnicity, same language, same everything—one big, tan family of carbon copies. I think I may have laughed out load. After which, it was my joy to show her in Scripture that God seems to care more about having every kind of person around the throne than melding everyone into one kind of person (Revelation 7:9).
The kind of world God is making is not one that erases difference. It is one that honors them by giving us the power and freedom to love every kind of person God has made. God knows and loves the good in who you are and where you come from! Yes, we all have equal access to God. We are all one family. But that oneness is not accomplished by erasing or eliding our difference. It’s accomplished through a shared faith and hope in Christ, and shared commitment to the love and truth of God in the midst of our differences.
Prayer: Creator God, thank You for the care with which You made me. All the good that is in me, who I am and where I come from, are part of Your design. I celebrate Your creativity and the goodness of all You’ve made. Thank You for redeeming this broken world and my brokenness through Your Son Jesus. I trust You have a plan to make all things new. Open my eyes to truly see the beauty in my sisters and brothers in Christ from every tongue and tribe. Teach me today how to live into the reality of oneness with them. In Jesus’ name and for His sake. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: John 13
Lunch Break Study
Read Colossians 3:1-17 (NIV): Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Questions to Consider
- What is Paul’s main instruction to the believers in this passage?
- How are believers to focus on things above and not on earthly things? What do all these instructions have in common?
- Of the list Paul gives, what things strike you most as areas in need of attention today— whether it’s things you need to put to death or things you need to put on?
- They are to set their minds and their hearts on the things above, not on earthly things. Instead of being bogged down by things of this world, believers should focus on the things of God and the new world God is making through us.
- In order to do this, believers must put to death the things that belong to our earthly nature. Paul supplies the Christians at Colossae a list that will help them begin to do this in vv. 5-10. This same list is a helpful place for us to start as well. And in lieu of those things believers are to put to death, Paul also instructs them to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, and being ruled in heart by the peace of Christ. In order to do any of this, we have to remember that “Christ is all and is in all” (v. 11) – in other words, we are all one in Christ. What all these things have in common are that they are relational and deal with our interactions with one another.
- Spend time in personal reflection.
What we see in the early church are believers just beginning to take steps into the new way of life Jesus has ushered in. If the Kingdom of God was an ocean, they were only just beginning to dip their toes in from the shore. But we can gather much from them about the direction in which things are moving and, by extension, the direction in which we are headed as well as the people of God. So I ask again, what kind of world is God making now? Keeping in mind our reflections from today about our unity in Christ even in the mist of our diversity in many other areas, spend some time reflecting on this question with God.
Consider meditating on the verses below as you do:
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-10). Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 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. 4 ‘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.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children (Revelation 21:1-7).