Hebrews 13:13-14: “Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”
I have been processing this verse all week. It has me asking the question, “in what city/camp do I seek refuge?” Do I seek it in America? My home? My neighborhood? My church? Is my primary consideration in life, how I can preserve my own (and my family’s) security and avoid hardship?
As I was processing these verses, I came across a talk by a well-known pastor encouraging us to order our lives with eternity as our focus. He was making the point that we should pursue the things today that we believe will bring us the most joy in eternity.
Isn’t that the same point these verses are making? The writer in Hebrews is rebuking the Jews for putting their hope in a rebuilt Jerusalem that will not last. Their sought after refuge was nothing but a vanishing mist. The refuge they needed and longed was only found in eternity.
The hard part in all of this is in figuring out what are the things I can pursue today that will bring me the most joy in eternity. These verses are clear that the best way for me to put my hope in eternity is to go to Christ outside of my current refuge and open myself up to the reproach of Christ. I must venture outside of the security I have built up around myself.
When I do this, I will find in eternity—in the city that lasts forever—greater joy in having borne the reproach of Christ than in whatever security I find in my chosen refuge. This is a difficult truth to live out. However, I believe these verses are also saying that when we live like this we will find greater peace and refuge here and now as well. When we leave our fleeting refuges of today, we find even greater refuge in how we relate to God, both today and in eternity.
I do not like to leave my comfort zone. I like to hang out with my church friends, stay in my safe neighborhood, and live a very controlled life inside the city of refuge I have built around myself. Even knowing that this city of refuge will not last, I persist.
So, what am I to do? These verses clearly teach that when I live with eternity in mind I will leave my place of refuge and bear the reproach of Christ. This means I will develop relationships with people who disagree with me and even hate me. It means I will place the glory of God above the safety of my life. It means I will walk out of the gate that is meant to keep me sheltered and safe. It means I will seek to treasure Christ above all else. When I do this, I intentionally put myself into a position of reliance and trust in God which frees me to experience His glory by simply being with Him.
I am still working on living with eternity in mind, but I know that the refuge I long for today can only be satisfied in eternity. Knowing that is true, then why would I order my life in any way other than a way which brings me the most joy in eternity. I must ask myself the question, “when I stand before my Savior in judgment will I wish I had done more or less of the thing I am doing?” Will I say, “I wish I had kept more for myself,” or “I wish I had not shared God’s love with that person,” or “I wish I had spent less time caring for those who hated me?”
If the answers to those questions are as obvious as I think they are, then I am a fool for ordering my life in any way that will not answer those questions in the way I long to answer them. Let’s go seek the city that is to come, the city that will last forever!