It is often said that the joy of travel is not so much about the destination as the journey. And sometimes that’s true. We can probably all think of memorable journeys, ones that perhaps even eclipse wherever it was we were heading to. The nature writer J.A. Baker describes his own love of journeying in these evocative words: ‘Wandering flushes a glory which fades with arrival.’
But not always. However memorable our journey through life, our final destination will be incomparably more glorious. As the bible ends, St John is given a last vision (in the Spirit) of what the ‘new heavens and earth’, the perfected consummation of all things, will be like. It is breathtakingly beautiful. A city both filled with jewels (21:11,18-21), and astonishingly fertile too, where trees yield fruit every month (22:2).
All the things we needed on earth to point us to God – the temple (v22), the source of light (v23) – are no longer needed because our access to God is immediate and complete. There are no threats to our security or wellbeing either – all nations and leaders are surrendered to God (v24) and the gates can be left open all the time (v25). It is a place of perfect peace and prosperity.
This is what the Spirit of God is preparing us for. Over these last sixty readings we’ve reflected deeply on how the Spirit is at work in the world and in our lives. Ultimately, the Spirit’s job is to glorify Jesus: to point all people in the world to him, and to the salvation, purpose, peace, hope and love that he brings. When we finally overcome this world, and get to heaven, in one sense, the Spirit’s work is done. It’s noticeable that the Spirit isn’t mentioned in this description. But it’s not that the Spirit isn’t there – God has been Father, Son and Spirit for all eternity. Rather, the Spirit can reign quietly with the Father and the Son, knowing that His eternal task is accomplished. Jesus is fully glorified, and His followers can rejoice and live in His love forever.
This is our final destination, but it has an earthly value, a relevance to us today. Until that day, we are temples of God’s Spirit, the place where God’s presence dwells in this world. We are the light of the world, pointing to the true light of Jesus. We bring our small amounts of splendour daily to the feet of Jesus and offer it for His glory.
May that be our hope, our joy, our purpose this day – and every day, until the completion of all things.