And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order has passed away.” (Rev. 21: 3-4)
Before we ponder these beautiful verses, let’s skip down a few.
“Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, idolaters and all liars — they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Rev. 21: 7-8)
The beautiful hope of God rings out from the first quotation. The dire warning of God greets us in the second.
I have all these tendencies to want to embrace what people tell me I should believe as a United Methodist. I want to be able to pretend that Jesus never said anything hard that was directed at me and people like me. Sure, he said hard things to Jerry Falwell and the CEO of Monsanto, but not us. I want to be able to smile on my own sin and yours and say, God does not care all that much about it. He loves me. He loves you too much to speak harshly of sin.
And as long as I don’t actually open the Bible, I can get away with this.