The start of another new year easily brings out the reflective side of human nature. We naturally think about possibilities, about how the upcoming year will turn out, about what we need to do differently to make life better. Given our human nature, this taking stock and envisioning a desired future comes to us almost as naturally as breathing.
To reach those desired ends, we set goals. What is not so clear is that those goals all flow toward a final one, an ultimate goal. In all our goal-setting is the intuition toward something full, ideal, perfect.
The Christian life has a goal. We easily think of it as heaven, but do we understand the Bible's portrayal of heaven? Where are we going when we go to heaven? We typically ask, "What is heaven like?" but maybe a better question is, "What kind of person will I be in heaven? How will I feel and see and experience life in heaven?" (You may be interested in our free mini-course (4 sessions) on this topic. Go to: https://www.spiritualmaturityproject.org/courses.)
Enter Hebrews 11, the well-known "faith chapter." It not only defines faith for us. It connects faith to the goal of the Christian life. It sees a city, a glorious city, our true home, where God dwells with us. "By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive." But, when they arrived in that promised land, they didn't settle anywhere. Why? They "looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God." They knew that the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, important as it was, was not their true home. In faith, they did not settle for just a parcel of land. They sought their true home.
According to Hebrews, then, faith is confident assurance in the reality of what is not visible to normal sense experience. The worlds were made by an unseen hand (v. 3). God has prepared an everlasting city for us (v. 10). And we live according to that vision, not settling for anything less.
In the meantime, in this veil of tears, we nonetheless have confidence of our true home's reality. Why? How? Because God's Spirit has been given to us as a pledge and foretaste of what is to come. We know, even though we don't see fully now (1 Cor. 13:12), what is coming and where we're going. That vision leads us and draws us toward its fullness. We set our sights on our true home and live purposely toward that goal.
This faith is not, as some critics say, of the pie-in-the-sky variety. It is not a psychological trick we play on ourselves, not an illusion, as Sigmund Freud thought, not an opiate (Karl Marx) that numbs us to reality. Biblical faith is not about putting up with suffering in this earthly life so that one day we (finally) get all the goodies in heaven. Our true home is real. We know this because God, who has given us this promise, is with us in the Holy Spirit, teaching and guiding us toward our true home. In scriptural faith, the Lord's consolations makes the future blessedness present to us now, even if only a foretaste.
Therefore, we live like Abraham and Sarah and the other people mentioned in Hebrews 11. We live responsively, purposefully. We discipline and train ourselves to make ready for inhabiting our true home. And in the meantime, we get a foretaste of it now.
In 2023, may we be people of real and true and deep faith, walking with God toward the home which he has prepared for us. And as we journey, may our lives bear much good fruit.