Often, the start of a new year brings anticipation, excitement, and hope to the forefront. What will these next twelve months hold in store? Will they live up to all the hopes and expectations we have for them? Will they offer us joy and peace; love and contentment?
For most of us, this line of thinking is just a natural progression as one thing ends and another begins. We don’t give a lot of consideration to the underlying motives or desires that shape these hopes or wishes. But, if we actually took the time to reflect on all our mind is processing, I think we would start to see a picture emerge. A picture of what we value, what we hold dear, what we treasure. And probably, for most of us, if we’re honest, we’ll see a picture where we are in control and where we call the shots. A picture that seeks our own pleasure and glory rather than God’s.
I see this in myself, more often than I want to admit. I want to be liked, I want to be important or successful, and though I would never put it in these words, deep down, I even want to be glorified. I want others to recognize my importance, my success and think I’m great because of it.
Part of the problem, for me, is that I’ve set my heart on the wrong things. Maybe this is true of you too. We value the wrong things, pursue the wrong things. We hold a little too tightly to the things of this earth. We’re comfortable here. It’s familiar. It’s home.
This might sound harsh to our ears, but John wants us to understand that this world, the things in it, are finite. They are perishable. They will end. And the people here, the people we try so hard to please and impress, they will fail us, they will leave, either by death or by choice. But in Christ, we have a perfect love that drives out all fear. We have the promise of a new heaven and a new earth that will never pass away, and where God will reign forever and ever. Do you see? This is our hope.
Abraham understood this. And he knew the One who promised was faithful. So, he looked forward. Forward to eternity in heaven with God. This is what Abraham set his heart on. This is where he placed his hope. Not on what the world offered, but on all that God offered. And God commands us to do the same.
This is a command to be intentional in our choices. To think about how those choices will impact our lives, not only today but into eternity. What we value, what we pursue, what we treasure will shape us. And so, it’s fitting as we start a new year to ask ourselves, this year will I pursue earthly treasures that eventually wither, fade and fall away? Or will I look forward, like Abraham, to a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God?
This won’t be easy. Even with all the pain, suffering and brokenness, we still want to hold onto the ways and things of this world. Usually, because we don’t fully grasp what’s coming. Revelation is clear though. It gives us a picture of the end, of the new heaven and the new earth. And once we know the truth, this is where we too, will want to place our hopes and treasures.
You see, God promises a world where there is no death or mourning, no sin or shame, and no crying or pain. A world with no darkness and no night. A world that needs no sun or moon because the glory of God gives it light. A world where nothing impure will ever enter it. And a world where God Almighty lives face to face with us, His children. Forever loved, and forever surrounded by God and radiance of His glory. This is the gift. This is the promise. And the One who promises is faithful.