How quickly I forget that I’m a sojourner. I am tempted to build my own personal kingdom filled with fortresses of comfort and towers of self-glorification. It’s no wonder the Apostle John told Christians that everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—come not from the Father but from the world. And while the world and its desires pass away, those who do the will of God will live forever (1 John 2:15–17).
Last year a wildfire made its way into my friends Paul and Sharon’s neighborhood. We Californians know all too well that wildfire season is no joke. Evacuation warnings must be taken seriously.
My friends spent the night before the fire reached their area deciding what to take and what to leave. At 3 am their city issued a mandatory evacuation, and by 4:30 am they had packed up their car and loaded the kids. As they drove away, they saw the hills behind them glowing, ashes falling like snow, neighbors yelling to wake up other neighbors, and cars being backed up. His neighborhood looked like a war zone.
Paul wrote of his experience, “I just imagined, what if we saw someone decorating a Christmas tree while the rest of the neighborhood was evacuating. It was a very sobering reminder to live our lives with eternity in mind.”
It’s wildfire season again here in California. I’m reminded of how the Bible contains the evacuation warning to end all evacuation warnings. Sin’s entry into this world set it on a trajectory course towards destruction. The scriptures blare the sobering message: do not love the world but flee from the wrath that is to come!
But this evacuation warning isn’t all bad news. It comes with a promise.
Warning: This World Is Not Our Home
Like Christian’s family in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, we too live in the City of Destruction. Trying to make this world our home is the spiritual equivalent of decorating a graveyard for the dead.