We will walk on streets of gold.
We will walk on streets of gold.
Revelation 21:21 gives this familiar description of the place we call heaven, “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” If you’re like me, you’ve heard about it your entire life. Pretty awesome! As believers, we will walk on streets of gold and right through gates of pearl… I wasn’t even raised in church, and I knew this. In fact, it seems to be the one thing that pretty much everyone can tell you about heaven.
Many times I’ve heard it used to describe the grandeur, majesty, and wealth of heaven – a place with so much of the things we value that even the streets are paved with Gold. You have to admit, probably beyond our ability to fully appreciate and certainly impressive on a very big scale.
As I was praying yesterday, this verse began to take on a new meaning for me though, and I’d like to share it with you and perhaps challenge the way you view, not only this verse, but perhaps some of your ‘here and now’ life too.
I often get frustrated when I hear people talk about being blessed, and God blessing them. It’s not that I don’t believe them, or even that I doubt that often times God has indeed blessed them. What frustrates me is that the ‘blessings’ I most often hear people refering to again and again, ad infinitum, is material and financial blessings.
Before you stop reading and drink a big glass of the haterade, let me preface everything I’m about to say with this. God does certainly bless people with material and financial gifts. Read Deuteronomy 28 if you doubt that. As children of God, we are joint heirs with Abraham, and joint heirs of those promises.
The old testament is packed with references of material and financial blessings in the lives of God’s people.
So What’s The Problem
Something changes in the New Testament. It isn’t that the promise changes, and it isn’t that God suddenly wants His people to be beggars and bums without the ability to pay their bills. What Christ introduces in the New Testament is an even greater value system. Stewardship and wise management of wealth and finances are still honored and indeed essential in the believer’s life. (see the parable of the talents)
However, I can’t think of any time in the New Testament where the word ‘Blessing’ is used with reference to finances or material possessions. Furthermore, the most well-known sermon Christ ever gave was to give a description of ‘Blessed’ people.
A Greater Value System
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us a list of blessings that exclusively deals with the inner character of a person. He says things like ‘blessed are the merciful’, ‘blessed are the meek’, even a couple crazy things like ‘blessed are those who mourn’.
What is evident if you read the passage is that the greatest blessing we can receive as a believer is to have the nature of Christ developed without our hearts, minds, and actions. It’s something that we are FULLY INCAPABLE of producing on our own, and is therefore beyond any measurable value we could place on it.
Contrast that with financial and material gain, and you can find believers and non-believers alike attaining wealth. In fact, I am of the persuasion that what some believers call their ‘blessing’ is really an idol, built with their own hands, which is being constructed at the expense of their true purpose and identity in Christ.
Streets of Gold
Back to the golden streets… I think that maybe the greater point that God is making when He speaks of streets of gold, gates of pearl, and a host of other rare and costly building materials is that those things that so many value and exchange their lives for on earth are, by comparison, merely the things to be trampled underfoot in the economy of heaven.
Maybe God is really challenging us to NOT spend our lives exclusively pursing what will one day be the dust under your feet. You’ll be using your heavenly lint brush to wipe the stuff off and vacuum it up into the trash. (I’m exaggerating here, but you get the point.)
Let me challenge you with these final thoughts and questions. Jesus was our ultimate and perfect example… How much effort did He put into acquiring wealth and possessions? How many times in the four Gospels do we read about Jesus helping people out financially? If Jesus was here to meet our greatest needs, what were the needs that He met while He was here and are we doing things differently? If so, why?
The Gospel was never intended to merely be God assisting you in your pursuit of the American Dream. That self-serving ideology is the very antithesis of the selflessly serving life that Christ demonstrated.
Be the best steward you can be with the wealth God brings into your life. Manage it with wisdom, knowledge, diligence, and generosity. Increase and multiply within the earth, but never allow the deceitfulness of materialism to choke out the purpose God has placed within your life. Don’t wait for eternity to rise above the allure of this world and walk on streets of gold.
I’ve written several paragraphs filled with various disclaimers, but I’ve decided not to include them. It’s hard for me to not qualify every sentence I’ve written here with further explanations. I simply want to challenge your values. Read the short ‘sermon on the mount‘ and then measure your blessings.