“For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” Hebrews 13:14
The true believer in Jesus is a traveler. He is journeying to a city of habitation, to the mount of God–and, blessed be God, he will soon be there!
The apostle Peter dedicates his pastoral letter to the “strangers scattered” abroad–the people of God dispersed over the face of the earth. Such is the Church of Christ. It is sometimes incorrectly called “the visible Church.” The idea is unscriptural. Visible churches there may be, but a visible Church there is none. The saints of God are “strangers and pilgrims” scattered abroad. Here on earth they have no permanent abode, no certain resting-place.
The Church is in the wilderness, journeying through it. The present is called the “time of our sojourning.” We are but wayfarers at an inn, abiding only for a night. “Here we have no continuing city.” We are strangers and sojourners, as all our fathers were. But this, beloved, is the reconciling, animating thought–we are journeying to the dwelling of God. We are on our way to the good land which the Lord our God has promised us; to the kingdom and the mansion which Jesus has gone to take possession of and to prepare for us.
In a word–and this image is the climax of the blissful prospect–we are hastening to our “Father’s house,” the home of the whole family in heaven and in earth, the residence of Christ, the dwelling-place of God.
To this each believer in Jesus is journeying. The road is difficult, the desert is tedious–sometimes perilous from its smoothness, or painful from it roughness; its difficultness now wearying, its intricacy now embarrassing. But who will complain of the path that conducts him to his home? Who would yield to the sensation of fatigue, who is journeying to an eternal rest?
Much of the disquietude and repining of spirit peculiar to the pilgrimage of the saints arises from the faint conceptions which the mind forms of the coming glory. We think too faintly and too seldom of heaven. The eye is bent downwards, and seldom do we “lift up our heads” in prospect of the “redemption that draws near.”
And yet how much there is in the thought of glory, in the anticipation of heaven–its nature and associations–calculated to stimulate, to cheer, and to allure us onwards! It is the place where we shall be sinless; it is the residence where we shall see God; it is the mansion where we shall be housed with Christ; it is the home where we shall dwell with all the saints; it is the point at which are collecting all the holy of earth, some of whom have already left our embrace for its holier and happier regions, and whom we shall meet again.
Why, then, should we be cast down because of the difficulty of the way, or for one moment lose sight of the glory that awaits us, or cease to strive for the fitness essential to its enjoyment? In a little while–oh, how short the journey!–and we shall be there. Then we shall realize, to their fullest extent, the beauty and the sweetness of the description so often read and pondered with tears of hope– “You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to thousands of angels in joyful assembly. You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven.
You have come to God himself, who is the judge of all people. And you have come to the spirits of the redeemed in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which graciously forgives instead of crying out for vengeance as the blood of Abel did.” O my soul! will you not stretch every nerve, endure every privation, and relinquish every weight, thus to reach this glorious city of God?