No War, no Pain, no Tears

2019-05-25 – Year C – Easter 6 – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas

Acts 14:8-18; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:1-4, 22 – 22:5; John 14:21-29

Memorial Day

  • Memorial Day is a day to help us deal with death. Specifically, the deaths of those who have given up their lives while serving our country in the armed forces.
    • This is the hard reality of war and the struggle for power between nations.
    • Even this year, there have been a hundreds of casualties in our military. They left behind wives, husbands, children, parents, and friends.
    • This weekend we give thanks to God for those who have died to preserve our freedom, and we give thanks to the families that they left behind for the sacrifices they have made.
  • Our reading from the Book of Revelation today gives us hope that war and casualty will one day come to an end.
    • Revelation 21:24 – “By it’s light will the nations walk.” This is an image of harmony between nations, this is what happens when instead of seeking their own glory, the kings of the earth seek God’s glory.
    • When we don’t have a clear and unified target, we end up aiming at each other.
    • Furthermore, the gates will never be shut (v. 25). Why? There is no longer a need for defense. The enemy has been defeated.

New Jerusalem

  • It is not only war that will come to an end.
    • Revelation 21:4.
    • Doesn’t that sound amazing and perfect? All of the things which make life on this earth so hard, and at times even painful, all of them will melt away. God himself will wipe away every tear.
  • One of the great surprises at the end of the Book of Revelation is that the people don’t go up to heaven. Instead, heaven and earth are both re-created (v. 5 “Behold, I am making all things new”) and the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven, uniting heaven and earth.
    • Ephesians 1:9-10
    • God himself will dwell there, and there is no temple (v. 22) there because the whole of the city IS the temple. Revelation 21:3.
    • So how do we get there? Grace of course! Ephesians 1:7-8.
      • We can’t be reconciled to God by being good enough.
      • But after grace comes obedience.

Obedience

  • John 14:23 – “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word…”
    • Does this mean that if we sin, we don’t love God?
    • I don’t think so, I think it has more to do with willful, persistent disobedience.
    • When we sin, we can always turn to Jesus, confess our sins, and rest on his mercy.
    • Sometimes we find ourselves trapped in habitual sin, we don’t desire to do the things that we continue to do, we do our best to struggle against temptation, but temptation keeps getting the best of us. That struggle show we are trying to obey but failing. We can continue to pray for God’s strength to deliver us.
      • On the other hand, when we say, “I don’t care what Jesus says, I’m going to do what I want to do” then we are in a dangerous place.
  • Judith MacNutt – “The Bible says we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. However, my experience is that very few people sin intentionally once they’re in the Kingdom of God. Most of us want to be above reproach, we want to obey the Father, we want to walk in holiness, grow and be transformed. What I am referring to is willful, rebellious, habitual sin: I know it’s wrong, but I’m going to do it anyway.”
  • In Revelation, we see that those who willfully disobey God will have no place in the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:8. Lake of fire and sulphur, second death, doesn’t this seem harsh?
  • N. T. Wright – “John is careful to add the warning that this inclusivity specifically does not stretch to those who practise abomination or tell lies. This is necessary for the same reason that one does not allow smoking in a library or the playing of radios in a concert hall. That which ruins the beauty and holiness of God’s new city is ruled out by definition.”
    • It is our choice. Either life with God, from whom comes beauty and peace. Or life without God and without his beauty and peace.

God’s Kingdom Now

  • God’s Kingdom is already breaking into this world.
  • As Christians, God already dwells in us, and we carry him with us wherever we go.
  • Because the hard realities of this life are the result of sin in the world, when we choose to obey Jesus and defeat sin, we are making the world a little bit more like the renewed creation of Revelation.
    • This is part of what we pray for every time we pray the Lord’s prayer. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
  • As we gather this weekend over burgers and hotdogs, let us give thanks for the sacrifice of soldiers who have fought for our freedom. And let us give thanks for the sacrifice of Jesus who has won for us an everlasting freedom
  • let us “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14, ESV)

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