Day 5 Generosity and Heaven
“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ ” – Revelation 21:5 (emphasis added)
In 1825, Robert Owen bought a large parcel of land, an entire city called Harmony, in the southwest corner of Indiana. He renamed it New Harmony. Owen’s goal was to build a perfect utopia where justice and peace would reign, there would be no poor nor would anyone be oppressed. He was a Scotsman who while working in mills experienced mistreatment firsthand. He concluded that the only way to bring about the drastic reformation society needed was by building a city from scratch. He sketched an elaborate design of what his utopian city would look like, walled with multiple gates. He laid out the laws of the city that he believed would ensure a peaceful and well-ordered society. In the spring of 1825, people began moving to the city, close to 1,000 people moved there in the span of a few months. However, by 1827, only two years later, Owen was forced to admit that his city was a failure, and he returned to Europe.
New Harmony was not the first or last attempt in American history to establish a utopian city. It is quite understandable as to why people dream of such a society: things are not what they should be. Yet, all of our attempts to usher in the perfect society ultimately fail.
Jesus promises a utopia. It isn’t because the lawns are landscaped or the children are well dressed. Rather, as John the apostle notes in the immediately preceding verses, “…God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more…” The New Jerusalem will be utopia because Jesus will rule over it Himself. Because Jesus will reign supreme, all things will be made new.
The parables of Jesus describe how life is radically different when Jesus is King. Jesus talks about storing up treasure in heaven (Matt 6:19) and leading a life now that looks upside-down to the rest of the world (Matt 5:3-12). But what Jesus calls us to do is to live according to the future promised in Scripture and manage our money in such a way that distinguishes us as followers of Christ.
As Americans who are deeply invested in a consumer culture, we find it hard to cope with the fact that Jesus makes demands on every aspect of our lives, especially our money. According to Jesus, our money is not a private matter. Our money is a kingdom matter. All things are a kingdom matter, and the King will make all things new.
Jesus has started making all things new. He is currently changing the way we look at our time, talent, and treasure. They are gifts we steward and share. When we are joined with Jesus in the New Jerusalem, we will not think of our time, talent, or treasure. Rather, we will think of one thing only: the greatness of our King.
We need a vision of the true utopia. It isn’t a gated subdivision. Instead, it’s the new heavens and new earth with Jesus enthroned over it. In Matthew 13, Jesus says that it’s like a hidden treasure and that when one finds it, one goes and sells everything in order to get it (Matt 13:44). Some of us know that feeling of wanting something so badly that it’s the only thing we can think about.
As Christians, our vision of the future compels some healthy self-reflection:
- What is our vision of utopia?
- How does the use of our money reveal the sort of life and future we are
- Does our charitable giving reflect the priorities of God’s Kingdom?
God is Lord of all things. At the moment, it may not always look like it or feel like it. We are called to live by faith in the vision given here in Revelation. We need to repent of trying to build our own New Harmony. We need the faith to believe that to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21).
Whether we are like the widow who may feel as though she has nothing or the rich man who feels as though he has everything, we look with faith to the future when Jesus will make all things new!
- What are some of the aches you have that will be healed when God makes all things new?
- What is something that would make you “go away sorrowful” if Jesus asked you to give it up for him?
- Out of “all things” God has given you, what practical changes should you consider in how you use your time, talent, and treasure?
Our Lord God, the one who gave all so that we might share in your riches, forgive us for keeping our eyes fixed on the things of this world. Enable us to see reality as it truly is, and give us the power to live by the ethics of the world-to-come. We’re sorry for treating our money as if it were a private matter, and we ask that you would give us ears to hear the demands you make on our money. It is not our hidden treasure. Teach us to give it up. Your kingdom is our treasure, and we will do whatever it takes to gain our share in it. Make us faithful servants who plant so that you may harvest abundantly when you make all things new. Amen.