My husband and I were recently eating in a restaurant by windows that looked out at the majestic Canadian Rockies. The sight was impressive in many ways—for the solidity of the rocks and firmly rooted trees, the ever increasing discoveries of depths and heights, shapes outlined in sunset colors or highlighted with white snow. Mountain deer ventured close to our windows, letting us realize something of the beauty of creature life in the natural, wild habitat as they gracefully loped across the open space and back into the woods.
How real are mountains! No need to dig and analyze and try to prove their reality. No need to race out with glue or cement and stick together the Canadian Rockies or the Swiss Alps or any other mountains to give them a greater appearance of unity.
But on the other side of the room an unwelcome sight met our eyes: imitation mountains! A plastic mass, shoulder height, running the length of the restaurant to divide one side from the other. Plastic flowers filled nooks and hollows in the plastic mountains, and gilt paint substituted for the sunshine or sunrise or sunset, never moving, never changing, never lighting the way to fresh discovery. Fragile, unconvincing copies glued together to stand in a place where even the mirrors were reflecting the glory of the real thing.
Ever since that time I have been seeing in my memory the Rockies on one side and the plastic mountains on the other. And over and over again I have thought of the frantic, wasted efforts of men and women as they try to glue together a miniature of the real magnificence that exists and is solid and everlasting: the fact of the oneness of God’s people. Consider God’s description of a future perfect unity:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; ...1
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