One of the world’s most beautiful cities — Paris, France — was brutally attacked this week. The death toll (as I write) stands at 129.
The world looks on in disgust as the reports continue to come in about the horrible things that happened there in the name of the Muslim god. Sadly, I don’t think anyone is surprised. There’s no shock anymore. Muslim terrorist attacks are as common as football scores or drops in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Just in the past month — October 2015 — there were at least 195 Jihad attacks in 31 different countries. Forty reported suicide bombers, more than 1,700 critically injured victims and over 1,500 dead bodies. Since 9-11 there have been more than 27,000 deadly attacks.* All in the name of a religion whose name means “peace.”
Every city in the world — not just Paris — is on high-alert right now. City-dwellers are keenly aware of something we’ve all known since 9-11: No city on Earth is safe.
Revisit a beautiful, hope-filled verse in the Book of Hebrews: “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come” (13:14).
The Book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were thinking about going back to Judaism because it was hard being Christ-followers. It carried a certain amount of “disgrace” (look back at v.13). It was very tempting to just go back to the old ways. To not deal with the disappointment of horrified mamas and papas. The anger and mockery of fellow Jews.
We too bear a certain amount of disgrace. It’s pretty hard being a disciple of Jesus Christ these days. In some parts of the world, it’s downright dangerous. In Muslim-dominated countries, our brothers and sisters in Christ literally “share the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 4:13). In fact, all who seek to follow Christ will — in one way or another — be persecuted (John 15:20).
But this is not a bleak message in Hebrews 13. “Bear the disgrace (Jesus) bore” and “we do not have a lasting city” is not the totality of the writer’s message to us. Notice that little word “here”! Here on Earth there is no lasting city. Even a city with as much history as Paris is not “lasting”. It will cease to exist someday. New York and Los Angeles, Kansas City and Topeka — even Lawrence will one day pass from existence. (This is still sounding bleak!)
But, there is a “city which is to come”! Not “here” but in the presence of God where there will be no more terrorists. Look what the writer of Hebrews wrote about this wonderful promise of God:
- “For (God) did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking.” (Hebrews 2:5)
- “For (Abraham) was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:10; therefore, Abraham is a great model for us of walking by faith.)
- “But as it is, (those who died in faith) desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:16)
- “But you (Christians who are thinking about going back to Judaism) have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,” (Hebrews 12:22)
If anything in the Bible can be believed, in my humble opinion, it’s the promise of this “city which is to come.” It is the promise of eternal life with God. It is repeated in numerous ways using numerous terms and word pictures in nearly every book of the Bible.
It is a wonderful promise of hope to those who were discouraged. It is designed to fill failing hearts with strength and endurance.
When we watch the news, witnessing the inhumanity of man, frustrated by our leaders’ inability to rid our cities of evil, frightened by our own inability to provide perfect safety to our children, we must remember the temporary nature of this world. We must remember that the greatest of cities will not last forever. And we must remember to seek that which will last. To “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” even as we pray for all who must endure the earthly one.
by Shaun LePage