I remember the first few hours in Forza Horizon 5's Mexico. I've never felt so relaxed. I didn't feel like I had to hurry, yet I was driving fast from one place to another because it was fun. All the adventures and missions were not overly tense or stressful, as the mood was chill and easy-going.
It truly feels like a massive festival with many celebration spots dotted throughout the map. No stress, no pain, no total loss, gift cars arriving regularly, fun 'jobs,' fireworks, beaches, sunsets, and good times all the time. I really want this place to be real. Do you?
Today, it is hard to imagine such a place could even exist. It's not just this fantastical place but also a time when the world does not feel like it is imploding on itself. So much of our time and space today seems to be drowning in strife and darkness. Can there be something more?
As I drive through this make-believe Mexico within a video game, I yearn for such a place. Something in me tells me I belong to such a place, and I am made for a place where I live in a way life was meant to be lived: Joyous, peaceful, satisfied, fulfilled, purposeful and loved. Could such a place exist?
It's moments like these that I am reminded that such a place does exist and will be there waiting for us. Sometimes I forget that the scriptures are sprinkled with reminders of the place Jesus is preparing for us, the new heaven and new earth.1 It is a city, as the writer of Hebrews2 describes it, one that is prepared by God and one that we can look forward to. It is described in beauty and awe as John writes in Revelation 21:18, "The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass." and it is lit by the glory of God with no darkness in sight.3 In Luke 23:43, Jesus called it a paradise when He told the repenting criminal hanging on the cross beside him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." And what's more is that there will be no more tears, death, sorrow, crying, or pain.4 I want to be there, but how can such a place be possible?
Friends, it is possible because there is a God who loves us and knows us. And such a place is real because He created us to be with him. And He made a way for us to be with Him because He sent his one and only son Jesus to die for our sins. Jesus took up the consequences of all our hate, lies, corruption, and iniquities, and He willingly gave up his life for all of us. But if he only died, then such a place would not be possible either because death would have won; sin would have won. No, Jesus died and rose again, proving his victory and lordship over all creations, life, and death. And because He is alive, we can be with Him in paradise if we believe in Him, seek Him for the forgiveness of our sins, and give Him the reins to our lives.
This is the hope that Christians have. A hope we know is real when we catch a glimpse of the new heaven and new earth: when we survey the horizon on top of a mountain on a clear morning, when we embrace the poor or the refugees in their time of need, when we experience forgiveness for offences to others, or even when we are playing an open-world driving game. There is something in me that tells me this is right. This feeling of rightness is not just a yearning for the "good place," but it is to be in a good relationship with the one who made that place.
Do you know this God who loves you? Do you know Jesus and what He has done for you and me? Have you submitted your life to the one who saved you? If not, I invite you to start here with the story of Jesus from the book of John. Get to know the one who created everything, including the paradise He wants to be with you in.
However, as it is written:
"What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived"—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
- 1 Corinthians 2:9
Looking for more?
2 Peter 3:13