Although reading the entirety of Revelation can be an exegetical struggle, the last few chapters provide even less experienced readers with a powerful, vivid picture of the glory of the new heavens and the new earth. What is most amazing about the picture is that it succinctly reminds us of how things should be and how they one day will be. God is at the center of it all and he is endlessly glorified. The gates are always open and there is no fear of attack or theft. The nations are at peace and worship the Lord rather than warring against each other. The curses of illness, pain, and harsh labor are reversed. The trees produce fruit easily and the servants work joyfully for the Lord. Although the picture presented is attractive and idyllic, there is more to it than that. There is an overwhelming feeling that this is the way things should be and how they were meant to be. God is completely glorified and man is completely satisfied with God, with others, and with himself.
This seems to speak volumes about what we are to do now especially in our work and in the way we treat others. In light of Revelation 21 and 22, we know the eventual goal of our work and our lives: to strive to bring about the new heavens and new earth in what we do even though we know that we can never do it perfectly until Christ has returned. When humanity fell from its proper state with God, man became damaged, selfish, corrupt, and hateful. Much of the work that Christian organizations and Christians in their own places of work try to do is counteract these symptoms of the Fall. For instance, a farmer tries to more easily provide food for himself and others even though the ground had been cursed; a politician tries to govern and make laws that encourage people to treat each other fairly; a pastor tries to teach people about the importance of Christ and returning to God; and, in my case, a nonprofit tries to fulfill a particular need or flaw that it finds in society. Although there are different nuances and roles of every place of business, the Christian in the work environment seeks to further Christ’s kingdom on earth by upholding the Bible and teaching others to do the same.
At my own place of work, the Trinity Forum, the focus is on helping people to better understand societal issues and be leaders to others in their particular fields. While we never phrase our work this way, we are trying to counteract the tendency of humans since the Fall to be callous and uninterested in the plights of others, and instead we encourage them to get involved and help to make a difference for and with the Gospel. Other, more secular, places of work also help further the kingdom. For example, a Christian working at a donut shop is obviously not going to be doing a great deal of teaching or leading others (for the most part); however, they can have just as powerful of an influence for counteracting the symptoms of the Fall. They have the opportunity to be a light to their coworkers in what they say and do. They also have the opportunity to show a genuine kindness and friendliness to each of their customers, even if only briefly.
Since the Fall, man has very often sided with Cain who killed Abel and then told God that he was not his brother’s keeper. Although most of us have not committed murder, we, like Cain, have usually lived without concern for our brothers and our neighbors preferring to spend our time and attention on ourselves. Yet, the second greatest commandment in the Bible behind loving the Lord is loving our neighbor as ourselves. Whether you are working at a donut shop or as the President of the United States, you can and must still do this. Honest, Godly love towards one another is one of the best ways in which we can usher in God’s kingdom because it is the way in which Christ lived.
image: freeimages/Arto Myllys