And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. (Rev. 21:10-11a)
Would you walk with me for a moment? I would like to consider the importance of the church and of her testimony among the nations.
In Revelation 21, Scripture describes the new heaven and the new earth. It presents a new Jerusalem as a bride made ready for her husband. In verse 24 we read, “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.” Just before this verse we are told, “The city has no need of the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” The light by which the nations will walk is none other than the Light of the world, Jesus Christ. Consider Psalm 119:130. There we read, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” In Isaiah 60:3, Scripture speaks of Zion and says, “Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising.” This is what Revelation 21:24 says.
There is also a river of the water of life coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb. That river flows through the middle of the street (Rev. 22:2). Remember what Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4? “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10) Jesus is the Giver of the water of life. On either side of the river is the tree of life. The tree bears its fruit without fail. The fruit is for the healing of the nations. The new Jerusalem produces the fruit of the Spirit as it is watered by the water of life.
These descriptions of the bride of Christ, the church, point out that the bride is made to correspond to her husband. (See Genesis 2:18-25 and note the word “suitable” (NASB) or “fit” (ESV) in verses 18 and 20).
What happens, though, if the church begins to follow and imitate the thinking and actions of the nations? What if her politics ceased to be that of the Kingdom of Messiah and became fixed and focused on the kings of the earth? What if her judgment of what is right and wrong was based upon the darkened thinking of those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness? (See Romans 1:18) “If the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again?” (Mark 9:50)
The short and horrifying answer is that such a church would not be a bride suitable for the Bridegroom. The good news is that Jesus came to redeem his bride. He gave himself in order to “sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” He called her out of darkness into his light, giving her life when she was dead in trespasses and sins. What’s more, he has sent her to disciple the nations. (Matt. 28:19) He did not call us to imitate the nations. Rather, he called us bear witness to them. He called us to make disciples of them. He called us to bear fruit that is for their healing.
Dear beloved of the Lord, we are in a season of God’s providence when your trust and your loyalty to Christ’s crown and covenant is being challenged and tested. Do not be like “children tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” (Eph. 4:214) Rather, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:16)
May the Lord cause us to walk together, following the Lord Jesus, upholding his law and demonstrating the great love wherewith we have been loved.
Soli Deo Gloria.