These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
I was blessed to play Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hills three years ago. The price tag for green fees, caddies, and hotels was quite steep, but it was the experience of a lifetime and well worth the outlay. I was grouped both days with three guys there on business from Boston. We had an immediately connection merely because of what we were about to experience together. We took videos of our tee shots on the picturesque par 3 seventh hole, posed on the edge of the cliffs, and felt what is was like to walk up the 18th fairway while the waves crashed and onlookers took selfies outside their villas. The Monterey Peninsula is truly one of the most beautiful places on Earth and the staff at each of the courses are top notch. The golfers pay the high cost for the customer service and amenities, but it’s not like people would quit playing for bad service.
As much fun and elation the Monterey Peninsula is for the golfer, we were merely pilgrims visiting for less than even a season. The selfies and group photos of all the vistas we experienced were great to post on social media, but my salary was out of proportion to the Monterey cost of living. This fact quickly convinced me of status as a pilgrim.
The apostles deemed themselves strangers in the world in which they lived. The more they learned about Jesus and the more they understood of the glory of heaven, the more they felt like strangers. Likewise, the longer I stuck around “17 Mile Drive”, the more I realized I was just a visitor. Similarly, the greater the relationship we have in Christ and the longer we live upon this earth, the more we realize this place is not our home. Our friends, families and possessions are blessings from God. He doesn’t intend for us to totally forsake their enjoyment. However, He doesn’t want us to get so attached to them that we are unable to desire Him and our eternal destiny. Similarly, dreams and goals are great and God wants us to prosper and better ourselves. However, when these goals become hindrances for our growth in Christ, we lose focus of our position of sojourners. How many times have you heard, “I will become more active in church when I graduate college and get a job”, “I will start taking my children to church once they are old enough to understand the preaching”, or “I just can’t find the right church that meets the needs of my family?” True sojourners realize their time in one place is short and do not put up stakes for an eternal earthly residence. Delaying your service to Christ assumes the conditional “when” event will finally occur. Just as the costs of visiting Monterey are steep, so are the cost of living an earthly life. The flesh desires and sacrifices much in order to live in comfort and in agreement with the world.
Just as the apostles, we have seen the promises from afar. We know our salvation comes through and by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. He arose on that resurrection Sunday and promised to come back for his people. He is preparing a heavenly abode for each believer. We should long for that city but realize our time here on earth is to be used to worship Him. Further, we must preach the truth that heaven is only to be occupied by those who have placed full faith in Christ. Let’s get busy – this morning we are the closest we’ve ever been to eternity!