Vol. 5, No. 4
~ Page 4 ~
Many people do not ever have a question as to where they will be buried. They have lived their whole lives basically in the same place and expect to be buried in the family plot. This sounds similar to Jacob's words at the end of his life. "Bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying place" (Genesis 47:29-30).
Although on the surface we might think that Jacob simply had a sentimental attachment to the family cemetery, his words hearken back to the promise that God made to him that his family would grow to be a great nation and prosper in the land of Canaan. Jacob had lived for seventeen years in Egypt, but he never considered it home. He was reminding the family that they were only sojourners in that land, and that God had promised them a home somewhere else. This is the same attitude we need to have today. We are strangers and pilgrims upon this earth (1 Peter 2:11) who are traveling through life, however long our stay, in order to reach our ultimate destination of heaven, the place of our citizenship (Philippians 3:20). Too often, we are so wrapped up in where we are that we forget who we are and where we want to go. It does not matter so much where you are buried upon this earth, but it does matter whether or not, upon death, you, as God's child, are going home.
Imagine for a moment, if you will, a congregation of the Lord's people where the people are truly united -- not only in worshipping in spirit and truth, but in spiritual work, goals and priorities (John 4:24; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Philippians 3:13-14; Colossians 3:1-2). Imagine a congregation where the people enjoy Christian fellowship so much that they long for it throughout the week and create opportunities to be together more on their own (Romans 12:10). Imagine a congregation where the youth group not only presents a united front for Christ and against sin but also is involved together with their parents in teaching their friends (Proverbs 22:6; 2 Timothy 3:14-15). Imagine a congregation where the minute someone becomes disorderly in any way all Christians immediately take action in order to try to restore that lost soul (2 Thessalonians 3:6; Galatians 6:1). Imagine a congregation where children come with lessons prepared, ready to participate and soak in a Bible lesson (2 Timothy 2:15). Imagine a congregation full of people trying to prepare themselves for greater service in the kingdom at every opportunity (2 Peter 3:18). Imagine a congregation so knowledgeable of the Bible that individual Christians can teach the truth and correct misunderstandings their friends have on the spot (Hebrews 5:12-14). Imagine a congregation free from strife, bickering and complaints, exhibiting Christian love and Christian attitudes toward one another and toward all men (Philippians 2:14; John 13:34-35; Matthew 22:39). Imagine a congregation that is teaching the lost on a daily basis and growing by leaps and bounds (Mark 16:15; 1 Corinthians 3:6). Imagine a congregation where the Gospel is defended (Philippians 1:17), the word is preached (2 Timothy 4:2) and God's Word is loved (Psalm 119:97). Imagine a congregation of people so concerned with spiritual growth that every lesson is taken as a personal challenge to improve, and where that improvement is translated into life (James 1:22).
It is a beautiful thought, is it not? Can you imagine a congregation of people actually excited about Christianity, coexisting in an atmosphere of tranquility? I hope you can see it. I hope you can imagine it. I hope that you can dream it. But why do we have to imagine? Why do we have to dream? This is the congregation that we can be, that we should be! This is what God would love very much for us to be. So, what is keeping it from happening? We are! We are holding it back because we either do not care or do not really believe that it is possible. We have learned to live with our own shortcomings and therefore do not see any urgency or priority in changing. In short, we have learned to see things as they are, and to accept them, instead of envisioning how things ought to be, and then striving for those worthy goals. We must see both the reality of how things are and the ideal of how things could be. Only then will we put ourselves into the proper perspective and turn that vision into reality. "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).