Meditating on the New Creation
What gets you through difficult circumstances? Samuel reflects on how Hebrews 11 can be applied in life, as we learn to hope in what is yet to come and eternal.
Looking forward to things really does help us get through difficult situations, doesn’t it?
Perhaps looking forward to a holiday at the end of the year is what’s helping you persevere at work now.
You’re imagining being at the airport and boarding the plane.
You’re imagining feeling the cold weather.
You’re imagining skiing down icy slopes.
You’re watching travel videos on YouTube and researching on the best things to do.
You’re buying things in preparation for the trip.
You’re saving up your leave for the trip.
Looking forward to things affects what we do and the way we live now.
How about the new creation? The heavenly city? Is that something we are looking forward to? Is that something we are thinking about?
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
(Heb 11:8-10, 13-16)
The examples of Hebrews 11 help me see that thinking and meditating on the heavenly city was something that the people of faith did often -- and it was what caused them to persevere in faith. The more we grasp how great it is, the greater it’s impact on how we live in light of it now, being future-focused, and persevering till the end. The evil one will seek to deceive us about the new creation and the resurrection, tempting us to be assimilated into this world, and become dull to the future. If he gets us to feel like: “Actually, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be very exciting.” Or “It just doesn’t seem very worth it.”, or if he gets us to be ignorant to what it will be like, then I think we might fall into a “bucket-list” mentality, or a YOLO (you only live once) mentality. We will waste this life, thinking it is our only chance to experience happiness, to achieve things.
But meditating on the heavenly city will keep building up our understanding of how good it will be and build up our desire for it.
How can we think about, meditate on, and look forward to the heavenly city? Allow me to suggest a few ways.
1. Use God’s Word to imagine what it will be like.
The Bible has lots to say everywhere about the future. For example, Isaiah 65:17-25 gives us a picture of what the new creation will be like, a good creation without the curse of the Fall. You could spend time looking at the passage and listing all the good things promised in the new creation. Which one do you find the most exciting? Think of what it will be like enjoying those things without the taint of sin or suffering. The good things we enjoy in this world (and how we feel about them), can offer us a small glimpse into how glorious the new creation will be. You could list 10 good things that you enjoy in this world. It could be places, possessions, nature, food or experiences you’ve had. Imagine and feel what it will be like enjoying those things without the taint of sin or suffering.
2. Use everyday situations to think about what it will be like.
When you go for a walk or run, or when you’re playing sports, imagine how that might be different in the new creation.
When we get into an argument with someone or are hurt by someone, think about what relationships will be like.
When we read or watch the news, we can think to ourselves: Would this happen in the new creation?
When we are at work and it’s hard going, we can imagine doing a day’s work in the physical new creation. How might it be different without the curse of the Fall?
We can use every-day experiences to meditate on the new creation.
3. Read literature that seeks to help us appreciate the new creation.
There are many works in which the authors help us to imagine what it may be like there. Here’s a short excerpt from The Last Battle from The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis.
“The Eagle is right,” said the Lord Digory. “The Narnia you’re thinking of . . . was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia, which has always been here and always will be here: just as our own world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan’s real world. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream.” . . . The new [Narnia] was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can’t describe it any better than that: if you ever get there, you will know what I mean. It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He . . . cried: “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this.”
I get goosebumps reading that.
The new creation is such a great hope that we have. May we be like the people of faith who desired it, thought about it and looked forward to it. May we then grow to live more and more in light of it in our time here on earth.
I’m sure Mr John Lennon had good intentions for the unity of the world when he wrote the lyrics to Imagine:
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky
Imagine all the people
Livin' for today
But as I thought about the lyrics, lyrics that I once sang along to, I couldn’t help but shake my head and smile. Because, if he were here, I would say to him: “I’m sorry Mr Lennon, I simply cannot join you in imagining there’s no heaven. In fact, I’m going to be imagining what it’s gonna be like.”
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