For many people around the world, it is not easy to be a Christian. It is a considerable sacrifice and risk. Some pay the ultimate price. It certainly makes you wonder then whether or not the entire thing is worth it. What could possibly justify not going along with the wide path of the world? Revelation 21 begins to give us a picture of that beauty.
Rev 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Rev 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
As Christians, we believe that God is good. We believe that God is beautiful. In fact, St. Thomas Aquinas speaks about God as the ultimate in goodness in his famous five ways. God is the superlative of everything. He is not just good; He is the most good. He is not just beautiful; He is the most beautiful.
Living in the presence of perfection is something I simply cannot fathom, but look at the results it brings about. There will be no more sorrow or pain. Why would there be any reason for despair when we are in the presence of the all sufficient, perfect God?
I know that there are terrible things that happen on earth. I don’t mean to diminish that whatsoever when I say this. No matter what evil we face on earth, it is a drop in the bucket as compared to the infinite perfection goodness of God that we are going to experience for all eternity.
I don’t know about you, but as I read this passage, it is clear that it is worth it. Everything that we might go through because of our faith on earth is worth it. The finite troubles are no comparison to the infinite perfection. God is good, and living with Him eternally is going to be remarkable.
Paul reminds Timothy that even though he is the pastor of the congregation and he is by necessity involved in the lives of the people who attend, he certainly does not know everything good or bad about people, and in 1 Timothy 5, he might never learn some things about people.
1Ti 5:24 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.
1Ti 5:25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
We don’t know everything about all of those around us. I love it when you find out something great about someone that you never knew before. When you find out that someone spends every Saturday morning working at the food bank or visits all of the elderly people in the church, it is pretty exciting. However, we don’t always hear about all the good that people do because they don’t feel the need to publicize it. They are humble, and that is fine, but it just goes to show that there are good things that people do for the goodness of doing good rather than for the publicity.
On the other hand, there are also people who are very good at hiding what they’re doing wrong. Sin does have a way of coming out, but it does not always. The implication here however is that God knows what is happening, and we cannot hide that from God. Even though Timothy might not have known all the problems within his congregation, God would be able to handle that someday.
I then think about our lives. Some people know us very well. We have family or friends to know a lot about us, but they probably cannot practically know everything. God on the other hand knows everything good and bad. The most amazing part about that is that He loves us regardless.
Romans 8 starts to tell us all about the good news for those who believe in Jesus Christ. However, one thing stood out to me in particular.
Rom 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Rom 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
I know that a lot of people experience a lot of bad things that happen in the world. Life is by no means easy for anyone, but for some people, it is particularly difficult. Verse 18 ought to be quite a bit of comfort. It certainly does not deny that difficult times exist. Paul himself had some type of physical issue that he had to deal with as well. Everywhere he went, he was persecuted, and he was ultimately killed for his faith. However, all of those sufferings put together and not even capable of being compared to the eventual glory that we are going to experience as children of God in heaven.
It is an interesting indicator that points to the existence of God. It is obvious that the quality of good is on a continuum. Some things are better than other things. Therefore, if there is a continuum, then there has to be the top of that continuum. In this case, the ultimate good is what we call God. God obviously has other attributes as well, but He is the ultimate good.
Thinking about this all together then in kind of a mathematical way, if God is infinitely good and our time in His presence will similarly be infinitely good, then any amount of suffering that we have in our lives were still mean that the net outcome is going to be infinitely good.
It can be hard for us in the midst of our suffering to recognize that in the long run, for those who trust in God, all of the good that we will experience will simply overwhelm all that we have experienced so far.