We take seven journeys through life.
We leave home – our personal Garden of Eden – and find ourselves freed like God freed the Israelites from oppressive Egypt. Then we enter a wilderness journey, where we must learn about the difficulties and exhilaration of being free.
Eventually we “see the light” on our fourth journey and go to the Land of Promise, where we interact with people from multiple and different cultures. One day we take the sixth journey – the journey to New Jerusalem.
While King David conquered the Jebusite city of Jerusalem about 1,000 B.C.E., making it “new,” the New Jerusalem can become a metaphor for how we live in community. Do we love our New Jerusalem neighbor as ourselves? Do we love New Jerusalem’s God with all our mind, soul, heart, and strength? If we demonstrate love for our neighbors and God, if we honor and respect those we meet as we journey through our day, then we live indeed in the New Jerusalem. We give birth to the “New Jerusalem” in our hearts, then the “New Jerusalem” with its love, honor, and respect for life develops into our relationships.
Eleven hundred years after King David created a New Jerusalem, we find in the Book of Revelation – Chapters 21 and 22 – that God creates another New Jerusalem, where God decides to live for eternity – where death will be no more, no one will shed a tear or mourn, and the work of healing the nations begins. God’s glory will shine like a beacon, and kings, queens, and all faithful people will enter into the city to find love, honor, respect, and joy.
To get to the New Jerusalem requires us to journey outside our comfort zone, leaving home and enter the wilderness. These are rugged journeys and are necessary for us to embrace our freedom and our accountability before being ready to enter into the New Jerusalem.
Many begin such a journey as this; and, more than a few give up over the long haul. They ask, “When do I get rewarded for the accountability, love, honor, and respect that I gave?” The answer comes like this, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 21:1, New International Version)
In the New Jerusalem or with attitude of living in the New Jerusalem, one’s integrity matters more than gold and living accountably, honorably and respectfully leads to abundant life as the author of Proverbs teaches, “My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 3:1-3, New International Version).
This world view calling you and me to offer kindness, love, and honor to others demonstrates that we hold ourselves accountable in our freedom.
Those who stay on this path will one day experience God’s New Jerusalem. Stay strong and committed, and abundant life will be yours. Such a journey includes hazards, detours and rough roads; however, we experience no better life than walking this path with the help and support of our God.
The seventh and final journey comes after we enter the New Jerusalem.
Tom Towns is pastor of First United Methodist Church in Cortez.