Making Jerusalem our Home
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”Galatians 5:24-25
During this fourth week of Lent we will begin the work of making the New Jerusalem our home. The Lord has set us free, and we have entered into the fulness of life in Christ’s Kingdom, the New Jerusalem. But what are the demands upon us as we make our homes here? Paul says, in the verses quoted above that our passions and desires — our selfishness and self-will — must be crucified, and that we must begin to live and walk in the Spirit of God. We must be different. We have been living and walking in the way of the world. Now the challenge is to be like Christ. We have been working hard to get here to the Promised Land, but that is only the beginning. The goal is not to get to the New Jerusalem, but to live in the New Jerusalem.
As we observed in the meditation this past Thursday, our relationship with Christ is a marriage. Jesus is the bridegroom and the Body of Christ is the bride. This relationship is one that is intended to be joyful and filled with love. But as any married couple knows and comes to understand more fully over time, marriage takes work. When the exiles had successfully made their way back home to Jerusalem, they knew that their work had just begun. They had worked hard to get there, having traversed over hostile terrain, and having overcome physical, mental, and spiritual obstacles. But now, the work of making Jerusalem their home was ahead of them. And that would require hard work. Now that we have arrived at our destination in the New Jerusalem, we have work to do in order to make this marriage work. St. John gives us a glimpse of the great joy that we can expect when we have made the effort to embrace this marriage relationship. He says, “‘Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Rev. 19:7-8).
The righteous deeds of the saints. The right relationship with the Lord. That relationship will make us different from those of the world. We are not called to be at odds with those around us, but to be the very image of Christ, a light in the midst of the darkness. The Church is called to be a light upon the hill, beckoning to those living in darkness to come up to the banquet table of the Lord and feed on the fruit and blessings that flow from the Heart of God.
There is work to do. We all carry scars from our journey, and we must unlearn habits that we have picked up while in exile. God will give a new heart and a new spirit to all who seek Him. We can learn a new way of living. But it will take time and effort. It will take a penitent heart and a transformed mind. Then we can truly know the peace of Christ, and put our hope firmly in Him. So let us come together as One Body in Christ and make our home in the New Jerusalem.