Abraham passed a great test of faith when, in obedience to God, he offered his son as a sacrifice. Yet, even more than his tested faith, Abraham was weaned from this earth—a fact proven when he offered up Isaac. He had faith that there was a purpose greater than the one he could see. Here was a man truly in the world but not of it, seeing his citizenship in another world.
Now consider what Hebrews says of Christ: “[He] suffered without the gate” (13:12). Jesus suffered as an outsider—always on the outside of formal religion, outside of accepted society. Yet Christ was also “outside” in the sense of having no place here on earth to even lay His head. In everything Jesus did, He always looked to heaven.
Like our Savior and our forefather Abraham, “Here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (13:14). We live and work on this earth, but we are aliens here; our true homeland is in the New Jerusalem. Thus, Hebrews urges, “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach” (13:13). Until we also are “outside” the camp—outside this world’s lusts and materialism—we won’t be where our Bridegroom is.
I live in a nice home and drive a nice car. But I continually guard against such material things ever taking hold of my heart. The fact is, you can have a mighty faith and still not long for Christ. “Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not [love], I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2).
Sadly, as I look around today, I see multitudes of believing Christians who have great faith, but have no longing to be with Jesus. Instead, they’ve set their eyes on the things of this world and how to obtain them. I find that such people don’t want to hear about focusing on heaven or being weaned from this world. To them, such a message means an interruption from the “good life” they enjoy here.
Thank God, He has a wonderful way of pushing us outside the gate. He tells us, in essence, “If I’m going to give My Son to you in marriage, there can be no other attraction in your life. I want to be sure you’re not lusting for something or someone other than Christ. Your most exciting dream, the deepest pull on your heart, has to be a desire to be with Christ.”