Love Your Neighbor (Rev. 21)

“It is done!” Nearing the end of Revelation, in chapter 21, John envisions the final fulfillment of God’s covenant with us. It is not a mere contractual agreement; it is a marriage. When Christ offers the cup to his disciples the night before he dies, it echoes a Jewish betrothal ritual in which the man would offer a cup of wine to his wife-to-be. The communion table is therefore the seal of Christ’s covenant, his loving promise to make us new and live in communion with us. This marriage is consummated in John’s vision of his return.

This hope is the basis for our work of mercy and justice in the present world. We don’t just sit back and wait for it to happen. The deeper this vision seeps into our imaginations and hearts, the more we are inspired to see it happen. We make space for these glimpses of his Kingdom by alleviating suffering and protesting the power of death, as if God's renewal is already working in and around us. This hope is a double edged sword of now and not yet—of joy and suffering, both of which empower us to have compassion and mercy toward others. Our hope inspires us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and “groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).

In short, we are a people of hospitality. We have been given the work of readying this world as God’s home. We are preparing for Christ’s return and the wedding feast, represented today at the Communion table. And as Jesus teaches us, we show love and hospitality to him by showing love and hospitality to “the least of these who are members of my family” (Matthew 25:40)—the hungry, the stranger, the unclothed, the prisoners.

Reflect on this declaration of hope (Revelation 21:3–4) and imagine how it can take actual shape in your actions today. If this is our hope, how do we treat others? How do we conduct ourselves in our current cultures and political systems? How do we care for nature? How do we respond to suffering and death? How do we live toward this future?

“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.

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Tomorrow on the Daily Connection: Who Is My Neighbor? (Fev, Haiti)

About the Author

Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC