10And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. 22I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.
President Obama held an oddly subdued news conference yesterday. He was asked if he “had the juice” to complete his agenda. He indignantly quoted Mark Twain, “the reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.” As though he could simply will that energy. But that kind of energy doesn’t come from pride.
Then, almost to prove the point, he proceeded to field questions about one dreary stalemate and debacle after another. Gun background checks, immigration reform, sequester cuts, and perhaps the most troubling of all, if that’s even possible, the one hundred men in Guantánamo on a desperate hunger strike.
One hundred men who have been imprisoned for more than eleven years now, without ever being charged, and despite having been been cleared for release over three years ago. They remain suspended in legal limbo by the shameful political winds and our spineless political leaders. Starving themselves to death is the only relief at their disposal.
In stark contrast to this nightmare, John’s vision of a “new Jerusalem” in Revelation offers a sweeping vision of God’s redemption. God’s redemption is not only of individuals. It includes kings and nations. Presidents and Prime Ministers. Senators and Congressmen. It is the redemption of the political processes that govern our lives and the policies which too often turn on the whim of self-serving politicians and their wealthy patrons while leaving the weak and the poor to fend for themselves.
John’s vision of redemption is the antithesis of the “nightly news” reality. In the “new Jerusalem” God’s will saturates reality, like water soaking a dry sponge. Nothing is left untouched. God future doesn’t look down on the political reality, God lifts it and restores it to the life giving purpose God intended.
Isn’t this what Jesus taught us to pray? “...Your Kingdom come, your Will be done, here on earth, as it is in heaven.” In heaven, the poor are fed. Justice flows like a stream and God wipes away every tear.
In teaching us to pray this way, Jesus is challenging us to live this way. But we can’t get there through pride, or greed, or fear. We run out of juice before we’ve even started. The only way to receive energy for the work ahead is to align ourselves with God’s future now.
Not that it will be easy. But in God’s future, the sweat and toil is part of the glorious fulfillment of what’s coming.