“Longing for a Better Country”
Dear Members and Friends of our ELS:
Beliefs influence actions. If a person believes that a certain food is harmful to one’s health, it is natural to expect the person to avoid eating the food. On a greater level, if a person believes that God is simply Nature and not personal, it would be natural to expect the person to have a deeply passionate fervor for ecology concerns. For all who believe in the Triune God of the Bible who secures for sinners’ eternal salvation through faith in Jesus, we can expect believers to live in a way that indicates heaven is their real home.
Well…at least, that is the way it should work! Our sinful flesh gets in the way. We want to be heavenly-minded, but we so often fail. The concerns of this life and the short-lived pleasures of the present world cloud our good intentions to focus on the beautiful place yet to come. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, who keeps our faith alive, we Christians are renewed daily in the forgiveness of sins won by Christ and offered in the Word. This moves us to see through the cloudy maze with a longing gaze for the homeland above!
God has given us some great examples of faithful believers who have gone before us. If you have not read Hebrews 11 for some time, I urge you to do so. Take a look at the many believers in Old Testament times who kept their sights on a better land while sojourning here below. Attention is given to Abraham and his wife Sarah. In the days of Nehemiah and Ezra, the prayer of the Levites references the faith of this great patriarch. Stephen mentions Abraham right at the outset of his powerful sermon, after which he was stoned. Our Lord Jesus spoke about Abraham in his preaching. Once he rebuked the unbelieving Jews by saying, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).
Oh, Abraham and Sarah and all the others mentioned as heroes of faith also had their moments of weakness. You and I too will continue to have those failing moments as we make our way on the journey. But, as Abraham looked to Christ and rejoiced, we too look again and again at Christ and the promises he has given us. This is how our faith is preserved under lock and key for admission into the blessed eternity.
Like Abraham and Sarah, are we not simply pilgrims in this world, longing for a better country? In Christ, we have that celestial territory!
For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Hebrews 11:10.
Rev. John A. Moldstad, ELS President