Revelations 21:14, 22-23
The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.
We have spent two weeks now looking at this New Jerusalem. There is much about it that was not read to us. Such as, the different types of precious stones that made up the wall that is inscribed with the names of the twelve apostles, and that the streets are paved with gold.
There is a joke about the guy who wanted to take his wealth with him to heaven, so he had all his wealth converted to gold bricks, and stuffed in a bag. When he arrived at the Pearly Gates and was met by St. Peter, Peter told him he could not bring in anything into heaven. But the man insisted that it was something he really wanted. So Peter went to talk to Jesus. When Peter came back, he told the man that Jesus said it was okay, but Peter had to inspect the bag first. When he opened the bag, and saw the gold, he looked at the man and asked “you brought street pavement to heaven?”
As I said last weekend, what this means is that the things that are valuable here on earth – in heaven are no more valuable than concrete or asphalt is now on earth. What is precious here on earth is so worthless in heaven that it is used to build the exterior walls of the city. Heaven itself is that much more precious.
What makes it so precious, first of all, is that God is there. And, “the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.” God is all that is needed in heaven. God is all that has value in heaven. Well, that is not quite the whole story: what God values also has value in heaven. He values his faithful angels and saints.
Now, what is described in the Scripture is the infrastructure of the new Jerusalem. But I have a question that I know you have heard me ask you before. What will our homes be made of in heaven? I think the answer to that is: they will be made up of the bricks of our good works, the mortar of our virtues, and the Wood of the Cross. Let me explain that a little bit more.
The ordinary things, even the things that seem valuable here on earth are almost worthless in heaven. When God reveals the new heaven and the new earth, what will be valuable are the things that God says are valuable. I am convinced that what God sees as valuable are the things that are done here on earth that are done with the grace of the Cross.
That is why our heavenly homes will be made with the Wood of the Cross. But, because we have done things in union with the grace of Christ, those good works are the bricks that will make up our heavenly home. And holding it all together, the bricks need mortar. That mortar is our virtues here on earth.
Think about this. A virtuous life is a life that is consistent and is held together because of the virtue. So the virtues in our lives will be useful in heaven.
So, while the exterior walls of the new Jerusalem will be adorned with precious gems, and the streets will be made of gold, our homes will be as unique as each one of us. They will be made of the bricks of our good works (done in the grace of Christ), the mortar of our virtues (which holds our spiritual life here on earth together now), and the Wood of the Cross (because the Cross is the only way we have of gaining heaven).
And in all of this, first and foremost, our heavenly homes will give glory to God for all eternity. They will not so much reflect our good works, and our virtues, as much as they will reflect the glory of God because they have been done by his grace.
Lord Jesus, help us to give you glory and honor and praise by all we say and do here on this earth, here in this life that you have given to us. This weekend, we remember those who chose to give their lives for their fellow soldiers and their countries. We honor their sacrifice and recognize that it is in some ways similar to yours.
We rely on your sacrifice and ask that you accept our lives as a sacrificial offering as well. Use what we can do – for the sake of your glory, not for our own sake. Strengthen and renew us so that we can continue to help build the new Jerusalem that will last forever and ever. Amen.