“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Does where you live have anything to do with who you are? For a lot of people, it does. They are proud citizens of whatever town, city, or state they live in; it is part of their identity. They like to participate in the public life of their community. Imagine if being a Christian impacted that part of your identity and you could no longer participate in the public life of your community. Imagine a place no longer being part of who you are. Imagine not being able to go out to eat, go to the big game, or even get a job. Imagine being told that you were a nobody simply because you were a Christian.
This was the reality for many of the first Christians. The city they lived in was a large part of their identity. Citizenship came with expectations and responsibilities. There was even a religious aspect to everyday activities like shopping, working, or even attending public events that involved the worship of false gods. Those who became Christians no longer did such things, and this meant that they lost part of their identity. They could no longer participate in the public life of their city. Believers were even accused of being bad citizens. They were accused of being enemies of the very cities they lived in. Some even found themselves wondering who they were. This remains true in many parts of the world today where being a Christian comes at a severe social and economic cost.
The Book of Revelation offers comfort to Christians facing that kind of identity crisis. It reminds them that they do have a place-based identity, they are citizens of the new Jerusalem come down from heaven. It reminds them that even though they live in a hostile world, they still have a place that is theirs. You too share in this identity. No matter where you find yourself in this world that is passing away, you are a citizen of the new Jerusalem. The city that will someday come down out of heaven is your city. The water of life that washed you in baptism will be yours to drink. No matter where you are from, the City of God is where you are going. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
See the holy city! There they enter in, All by Christ made holy, Washed from ev’ry sin: Thirsty ones, desiring All He loves to give, Come for living water, Freely drink and live! (Christ is Surely Coming, LSB 509 st 2)
-Pastor Grant Knepper is the pastor at Zion Lutheran Church, Hillsboro, Oregon.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.