Jesus gave the “Great Commission” to his disciples at the very end of Matthew’s gospel. Pastor David suggests that this is very much like the covenant language that God used in the Old Testament, such as in today’s sermon text, Isaiah 56:1-8.
Over the past few years, I have learned the art of “going to town” – that is, combining errands into one trip so that we don’t drive 40 minutes round-trip simply to get eggs and a gallon of milk. You see, life in Indianapolis was much different for us: we could get to a grocery store, the bank, or the post office in only five minutes. Living here in the country, in the neighborhood of the church, has changed our approach to life, at least in that regard.
“Going to town” is something we plan for, something we do intentionally, with wisdom, and with purpose. This attitude is heightened when it involves catching a plane in Flint or a show in Toledo.
How much more should we be careful, intentional, and excited about going the city of God!
By “the city of God,” I don’t just mean heaven. Yes, we should be careful about going there, of course. But I believe “the city of God” refers to the way God helps us settle in his presence – beginning even in this life, and continuing into eternity. Read these words, which we read in worship on separate weeks earlier this month:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say this– those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. … Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord. (Psalm 107:1-9, 43 NIV)
“How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? … My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim. For I am God, and not man– the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath. They will follow the Lord; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west. They will come trembling like birds from Egypt, like doves from Assyria. I will settle them in their homes,” declares the Lord. (Hosea 11:8-11 NIV)
Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:16 NIV)
Be intentional about following God on the journey. Cry out to God when you are lost, and give thanks when the way is made clear for you. And remember: God is in the business of expressing his love for us by providing places, physical and spiritual, in which we can settle.