A day is coming when the redeemed of the Lord will worship together as one. Many of the bugaboos of the present age will be distant memories: racial profiling, hate crimes, mass murders, serial killers, terrorism, human trafficking, sexual abuse, pedophilia, sickness, death, suffering, and much, much more. All of these things will have no place in the age to come. For that, I am immensely grateful. This brings me to the current situation in the state of Missouri. The governor declared a state of emergency for the Ferguson-St. Louis area in addition to imposing a curfew. Ever since the death of Michael Brown, civil unrest has engulfed the region. Once again, this situation raises the issue of race relations in this nation.
I attend church each and every Sunday morning. This is not something that I say as a badge of honor. It is simply a fact; however, does my attendance have any impact upon those in my life? If the Lord called me home suddenly and swiftly, would there be a hole left behind because I no longer bring to those people and situations something good and right? There are some days when I whine and complain about making a difference in the world through my work. I long to influence culture and society on a larger scale. In the yearning to have greater influence, have I lost sight of those people in my immediate circles? If I expand this out to include the US, does the citizenry within each state take time to press into the people and circumstances right in front of them?
Like I said at the beginning, the age to come will be enjoyed for its magnificent diversity and unity. Here’s a sample from the book of Revelation: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. (Revelation 21:3-4 & 22:3-4, ESV). This is such a glorious picture of a glorious future where sorrow and suffering and wickedness no longer wreak havoc upon God’s people and his earth. It is a soon coming reality at the end of the age.
Each community of believers who profess Christ as Lord holds or embraces this magnificent vision of the age to come. This begs the question about how we live in this present age in the light of eternity. Anyone who follows Christ by faith will end up in the age to come. It is our destiny, and it is a message to proclaim to those in our lives. No one can fathom what it will be like to live on an earth without sin’s curse. Each day of my life falls under the influence of either my sin or the sins of others. How do I relate to my wife? my coworkers? or my family? Every one of these relational settings has the potential for conflict, pain, hurt, betrayal, joy, productivity and more. My future hope must impact the everyday otherwise there is no life and power in it.
There is a part of me that longs to see an eternal mindset grip my nation in the area of race relations. The reason that I say this has to do with a couple of verses from the book of Revelation. Here are some snippets: “…by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation , and you made them a kingdom…,” and “…a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…” (Revelation 5:9-10 & 7:9, ESV). These two passages depict a redeemed people of God, who comprise an array of people, languages, and nations. No nation or people group will be left out of God’s kingdom provided that they believed in Jesus by faith. The age to come is the ultimate reality for racial unity in the midst of great diversity.
What does this mean for today and Missouri and other parts of the world experiencing racial disharmony? Someone like me, who claims to be a follower of Christ, is to live life in such a way that promotes racial harmony and diversity. Any gospel-centered church and ministry worth its salt should provide an earthly foretaste of the age to come. People inside and outside the church should be able to see these communities as examples of racial unity in the midst of diversity. In many ways, I believe that God’s people and his church are to lead the way in race relations. After all, this is what the eventual reality will be in the age to come. This means that I have work to do along with all those who follow Christ. We must roll up our sleeves and show the world what it looks like to live out racial unity in the midst of diversity.