There is sanctuary there without sorrow,
there is light which never fades;
songs which are pure, fair, skillful,
enduring, tender, delightfully sweet.
- Saltair na Rann, Irish, 9th-10th century
In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
- Revelation 22.2, 3
Christians are a people journeying toward a City which is to come. This was the example of our forebears, and it is the orientation of all who truly live by faith in Jesus Christ (Heb. 11.13-16). “This world is not my home,” the old spiritual insists. And it’s true. We live here, work here, raise our families and leave our mark here, but this world is not our home.
So we shouldn’t get too comfortable with it. Nor should we be vexed or troubled by it (Jn. 16.33).
Instead, we should be more about the business of thinking on and living toward the City which is to come, that “sanctuary” “without sorrow” where all is healed, and there is no more curse. This is our hope, that unseen, promised home that Jesus is even now preparing for us, and for which all true believers long with all their heart.
Why don’t we spend more time thinking about the City to Come? Celtic Christians fairly lived in the coming age, so enrapt were they with the vision of what they referred to as the “Paradise of the Saints.” Often, while on their journey in life, they would indulge in meditation and prayer, focused on the unseen realm and the City to Come, and they would lapse into seasons of reverie in which, in spite of their circumstances, they experienced the peace and joy of the Lord with great fullness. They prepared throughout their lives to be fit company among the saints and angels when at last their day of resurrection should arrive.
There are many benefits to focusing on the world that is to be, and to envisioning ourselves, even now, dwelling in that sanctuary without sorrow. Such meditations – whether in prayer, song, journaling, or solitary wandering – can bolster our hope and fill us with the joy of anticipated blessings. By these also we will find our desire enhanced, so that we long to bring something of that eternal future into our present experience (Matt. 6.10). By focusing more consistently on the City to Come, we will be more likely to pursue holiness, extend grace, exude joy and hope, and communicate the Savior to those around us.
As communities of believers give themselves to such meditations, their worship will be enriched, their disciple-making transformed, and they will discover new resources for loving one another and reaching out to their lost neighbors.
Jonathan Edwards used to refer to the City to Come as the beatific vision – the blessed, beautiful, enthralling, glorious, and transforming vista of our eternal home. He urged believers to see themselves on a journey there, and to press on in their journey, ever preparing for their destination and their eternal home.
Thus we learn the secret of living the then and there, here and now, and we show to the watching world a reason for hope that they can find nowhere else.
But we must resolve, like David, to seek the Lord in that sanctuary without sorrow, and to meditate on His beauty, and the beauty that awaits us there (Ps. 27.4, 5).
Seek that sanctuary without sorrow every day, and your faith in Christ will be richer and fuller as a result. The City to Come is a work in progress, but enough of its eternal beauty and glory is revealed in Scripture that we can clearly glimpse the home which is being prepared for us.
Go there, friends, in meditation and wonder. You can enter the sanctuary without sorrow even now, and know the peace that passes understanding and the joy that nothing can supplant, as you rest in Jesus in His home.
1. Do you ever meditate on the City to Come? Do you think you should?
2. How would you expect to benefit from having a clearer and more compelling vision of the City to Come?
Psalm 23.4-6 (The Gift of Love: Thought I May Speak with Bravest Fire)
The Lord is ever by my side; His rod and staff with me abide.
A table rich for me He spreads; with oil my Lord anoints my head.
Goodness and mercy, full and free, shall ever after follow me,
and in the house of God, my Lord, shall I abide forevermore!
Lord, teach me how to engage and practice that eternal and blessed vision so that I…
The Christian’s vantage point
Christians look at time differently from their unsaved neighbors. Our vantage point is more robust, hopeful, promising, and fraught with power. Our book, Vantage Point, can show you how to begin living more toward the City to Come. Order your free copy by clicking here.
Thanks so much to those of you who faithfully support the work of The Fellowship of Ailbe. God uses your gifts and prayers to reach thousands of people every day in over 160 countries. We praise the Lord for His having moved and enabled you to share with us in this ministry.
If you’re not a supporter of this ministry, won’t you please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe? Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter. You can click here to donate online with your credit card or through PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.