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.”
As adults, we uproariously celebrate the smallest milestones of children—little teeth, first words, courageous cartwheels, or ribbon-winning science experiments. They beg for us to watch them draw, dance, and dribble. They ache for our attention, and they do not shy away from our delight. The inherent newness with which children encounter the world—and their desire to be with us in those discoveries—echoes the Garden, but more wonderfully whispers of eternity.
Longing to Belong
Just as children crave attention and acceptance—and trust us with their little hearts to give it—so must we trust Christ to enter his kingdom. In fact, there is no other way.1 One day, it will be a two-way street in the city with streets of gold.2 We will delight in Christ and he in us. We will experience deep rest in our souls because we finally belong—somewhere and to someone. “We’re not going back to the garden where there’s the possibility of evil coming in. We will be forever, and will do forever, what we were created to be and do,” said Dr. Glenn Kreider, professor of Theological Studies at Dallas Seminary. “To be able to enjoy the world that God has created and to enjoy it without all of the effects of sin and death and depravity and decay ... that’s the hope.”3
Living to Love
We suffer here. An ache for more is calcified deep in our bones. We know things are not as they are supposed to be. We stand with the “great cloud of witnesses” described in Hebrews 12:1–2 and run toward the promise.
Without the fellowship of friends, we can lose sight of our humanity and our Creator. We grow deaf to the whispers of the kingdom, and we lose assurance in God’s promise of absolute belonging, forgiveness, and indestructible joy. We forget our purpose here—to love as Christ loved us.
Our friendships are small mirrors that glitter reflections of eternal redemption. When a friend grips our shoulders and tells us how much she loves us, we hear a kingdom whisper. When a friend wipes a tear from our face, we feel a kingdom touch. When a friend cooks our favorite savory or sweet treat, we taste kingdom feasting. When a friend throws open a door to invite us into her home, we experience kingdom welcome.
One day, that welcome will be without end. Until that day, our fellowship of friends signals the message of Christ: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Our job now is to live kingdom-loving one another.
What most moves you about how friendship echoes our eternity with God and other believers?
What are you looking forward to in eternity?
How does friendship shape your walk with God?
What piece of wisdom would you share from this study to encourage your friends?
How do you imagine the kingdom with no end? In what ways do your friendships give you hope for that reality?
1Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17; Matthew 18:3
3Dr. Darrell Bock, interview with Dr. Glenn Kreider, The Table Podcast, December 5, 2017, https://s3.amazonaws.com/dtsfeeds/thetable/mp3/thetable_201711A_nicenecr....
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