Tomorrow’s people in today’s world

The woman of Sychar, in her unplanned, one-on-one meeting with Jesus by her town’s watering-hole, and the couple whom Jesus joined unexpectedly on their mournful trudge home to Emmaus, saw only a human anybody. To the one he was just a foreigner (John 4:9); to the couple he was only a tourist (Luke 24:18). He simply looked like any other Jewish man. But before long the Samaritan woman realised he was ‘the Christ’ (John 4:29); and the others soon discovered he was ‘the Lord … risen indeed’ (Luke 24:34).

We who are Jesus’ people should have a comparable impact when we first encounter folk. Because he never used swearwords in conversation, his schoolmates told our ten-year-old son when we first moved to their district that he ‘spoke posh’. So, to blend in he decided to speak, still without swearing, but with the ripest local accent he could imitate, dropping h’s and t’s out of most of his vocabulary.

Blending in, outstandingly

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks put it something like this: We need to take hold of the future and bring it into the present, or we are in danger of being trapped in the now. 

True disciples are not ‘sons of this age’, trapped in the now, but ‘sons of the resurrection’ (Luke 20:34, 36), motivated by the future. Though we live mainly in routine activities as do ‘the sons of this age’ – eating and sleeping, dressing and working, planning and playing – nevertheless our motives and demeanour, our speech and behaviour should express in the here and now the qualities of our ultimate unveiling. So, what are those qualities? And do they now shine through my everyday living?

Ready for Jesus’ arrival (Revelation 21:1; 22:5)

Take a fresh look at the details of the New Jerusalem, ‘prepared as a bride adorned for her husband’ (21:2) in matters of character, charisma, and community. She is:

[] soundly established (Revelation 21:14, ‘twelve foundations’ according to Jesus’ apostles; compare Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Corinthians 3:11, ‘which is Jesus Christ’)

[] a communal society (Revelation 21:10, ‘the holy city’; compare Psalm 122:3, ‘Jerusalem – built as a city that is bound firmly together’; Matthew 5:14-16)

[] devoted in worship (Revelation 22:3, literally ‘serve him as devoted, priestly slaves’

[] well-rounded, full-orbed (Revelation 21:16, 19, ‘foursquare … with every kind of jewel’ – no over-emphasis in doctrine or practice; no under- emphasis in gifting and ministries)

[] upright and clean (Revelation 22:11, ‘righteous’ and ‘holy’; Revelation 22:14, ‘wash their robes’)

[] victorious over setbacks (Revelation 21:7, ‘one who conquers’; Revelation22:5, ‘they will reign’)

[] transparent and refreshed (Revelation 21:11, ‘clear as crystal’; Revelation 22:1, ‘the river …of life’)

[] with defined boundaries, but open gates (Revelation 21:12, 17, 25, ‘a great high wall; …its gates …  never… shut’)

[] radiant, enlightening and ministering wholeness (Revelation 21:24, ‘by its light will the nations walk’; Revelation 22:2, ‘the leaves of the trees were for the healing of the nations’)

* Are there any adjustments we need to make or gaps to fill, personally or corporately?

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