Attempted Permanence

City Lights at Night along the France-Italy Border

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”- Hebrews 13:14

“…even that as strangers and wanderers in this world we should consider that we have no fixed residence but in heaven. Whenever, therefore, we are driven from place to place, or whenever any change happens to us, let us think of what the Apostle teaches us here, that we have no certain abode on earth, for heaven is our inheritance; and when more and more tired, let us ever prepare ourselves for our last end; for they who enjoy a very quiet life commonly imagine that they have a rest in this world: it is hence profitable for us, who are prone to this kind of sloth, to be often tossed here and there, that we who are too much inclined to look on things below, may learn to turn our eyes up to heaven.”- John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Epistle to the Hebrews.

It is part of our condition as natural humans exiled from the Kingdom of God to attempt to make things permanent that are by nature transient. We suffer and sweat to make homes for ourselves here, to procure reputations and names for ourselves, to store up for ourselves earthly treasure after earthly treasure. We build monuments to ourselves and spend our lives trying to sink our organic roots into the soil of this planet, expecting longevity and immortality from our works and homes. But the truth of Christ penetrates and invades our vain attempts at permanence. The truth of the universe is that this planet, as it stands now, is not our home. God’s people are exiles and sojourners. Our home and security have been lost by rebellion and pride, and the internal remnant of this need for Home plagues us all. Home, however, is not to be found. It is elusive this side of eternity. Let us try to grasp our relationships and watch them slip like water through our fingertips. Let us hold fast to our wealth and jobs and watch them pass through our hands like smoke. Let us attempt to find security and homeliness in our coffee shops and restaurants, in our every-day routes to work and the familiar sights and sounds of our cities. What will remain in us, though, is a sense that what we have gained here will not suffice. But Home can be regained. It can be regained in Christ. The words of Hebrews sink in deep. Christians must not attempt permanence from impermanent objects; we must seek the true Permanent, our True Home. The City we seek is with God, and we have access to it by the blood of Jesus. We, as Christians, will either go to that City when we breathe our last, or we will meet it as it comes from the clouds. Earth, as it stands, is not our home, but there will be a new heavens and a new earth, and a New Jerusalem where our longing and ache for home will be appeased. We should work, we should toil, we should enjoy our relationships and cities, but we should do these things in preparation and in expectation for the coming Kingdom in light of our eternity with Christ. The words of Jesus come to us here. “Seek first the Kingdom of God…” (Matt. 6:33).

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