Steven Covey, in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, famously wrote that, to be successful, we must “begin with the end in mind.” This is vital in the context of leadership or business endeavors. Starting an initiative and working towards the stated objective is the focus, not the other side-trails or distractions vying for our attention.
Paul offered similar counsel to the believers in Colossae when he wrote, “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3).
Our lives as followers of Jesus are to be focused on the reality that our lives are now hidden with Him. We are called to focus on the reality of what is to come and not to be consumed with the distractions and agendas of the world around us. Today’s passage gives us the picture of what we are to fix our minds upon and what we are to long for.
In John’s vision in the book of Revelation, he is given a clear, descriptive viewing of the throne room of God. The vivid picture of the throne, the description of the thrones, elders, the living creatures, and the eternal worship before God all create an overwhelming scene to John and to his audience. It is such an overstimulating read that it is (intentionally) impossible for us to take it all in.
The worship of our honorable, worthy-of-all-glory, holy God is mysterious, and it is reserved for a later time when we will be with Him. When we read this passage, we should feel a tension. We need to recognize that we don’t understand and can’t fully comprehend what we’re reading. The sense of curiosity and even confusion that comes to us should create a longing in us for the day when we will see Him clearly and worship before His throne. This passage and Paul’s call for us to seek the things above is not a call for us to abandon the world that we live in, rather it is a call to long for the world that is to come.
As will be noted several times in this sermon series, it’s somewhat awkward to read and focus on the book of Revelation during Christmas time. We’re conditioned to “need a little Christmas, right this very minute.” The holiday season has truly become the opiate for the masses because we depend on it to provide a sense of relief and temporary happiness at the end of our year. As followers of Christ, we can get dragged into the trap of viewing the season as a booster shot for our feelings and even our faith. Granted, it seems strange to begin at the end, and work our way back to the baby in the manger. We’ve always been taught that’s where we should start.
However, beginning with the end in mind is helpful. A noted theologian writes, “If we began with the nativity and then moved to the last judgment, we would be so softened up by that little baby in the manger that we wouldn’t be able to take the second coming of Christ in power seriously. The solemnity and awe do not lie in the fact that the baby becomes the eternal Judge. What strikes us to the heart is this: the eternal Judge, very God of very God, Creator of the worlds, the Alpha and the Omega, has become that little baby.”
This little baby would also go to the cross for our sins and defeat death through His resurrection so we could stand confidently before the eternal judge on His heavenly throne.