“Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good–tears gone.” Revelation 21:3-4 (The Message)
It’s interesting to read the lectionary choices from Revelation over the course of this Spring. In many of them, we find “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” It seems appropriate for our era somehow, and yet, it is appropriate for nearly every era, every decade, every century.
Each generation has felt the need for God’s presence, comfort, healing, and love because we live in the human condition. We are sinful by nature, and we have been given the choice between good and evil – we can go either way. Fortunately, in my observations, more people really DO chose good over evil, although none of us is exempt from making bad choices. There will be times when we seek selfishness over generosity or self-centeredness over reaching out.
This particular passage from Revelation 21 tells us that God is “moving into the neighborhood.” So often we think of God as this ethereal being “way out there somewhere,” when in actuality, God is with us here on earth. I know the Revelation passage promises that God will come to dwell on earth, and we need to hear that, but God has already dwelt on earth through the incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth.
God continues to live on earth through the power of the Spirit as well as the incarnation of Jesus – the Church. The challenge is that church’s become so off track. There goes that human choice thing again! There are church folks who become offended because someone says something that hurts them – what about forgiveness? There are church folks who want to control everything because they think that they have all the right gifts or all the right answers – what about the “body of Christ” in which everyone is called to share his or her gifts in whatever way they are able?
Churches become places for fighting and bickering, and often over silly things like the color of carpet being put down in the sanctuary or what curtains look like or how to maintain the gardens. What is our focus really? Maybe if we took the idea that God is “moving into the neighborhood” a little more seriously, we would stop focusing on the things that don’t last and begin focusing on the things that do.
In other words, maybe we would begin behaving so we can be in mission and ministry more effectively. Our job as followers of Jesus Christ is to reach out, to bring healing, help wipe away every tear, offer hope, care about others, bring a kind word or action when others condemn or judge, draw the circle of God’s love wider and wider until everyone is included. We are the ones who lay the foundation – in partnership with God – so that God’s home on earth can grow and expand.
God is moving in to the neighborhood, let’s do our part to build up rather than tear down, to help rather than judge, to offer a cup of cold water to someone who most needs it. Let’s accept our responsibility for making a difference. May it be so!