Mark D. Roberts

At our recent Laity Lodge retreat we were pleased to have Scotty Smith as our speaker. Scotty is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. After twenty years as Senior Pastor, he is now the Pastor for Preaching, Teaching, and Worship at CCC.
At our retreat, Scotty addressed the topic: “Living Like Heaven is a Real Place: Finding Our Place in God’s Big Story of Redemption and Restoration.” He focused on the last two chapters of Revelation, setting these chapters in the context of the whole sweep of Scripture.
Scotty enhanced his teaching by use of a painting that was created for Christ Community Church. “God’s Story” by David Arms is a marvelous visual representation of the whole biblical narrative, beginning with creation in Genesis 1 and ending with the new creation in Revelation 21-22. You can find out more about this painting and its meaning on the Christ Community Church website.

Scotty used the vision of the new creation in Revelation 21-22 as a way of opening our minds to God’s intentions, not just for the future, but also for the present. I was struck by many things Scotty said. I’ll quote (or paraphrase) a few of them here:

We need to emerge from our individualistic micro-narrative into the grand narrative of God.
Is there anything other than the sinner’s prayer? [Re: our praying “the sinner’s prayer” in conversion]
If God was going to annihilate this creation, why did he call it good in the first place?
God’s first action in the new creation is to wipe away our tears.

This last observation wasn’t just some touchy-feely invention. Scotty took it quite literally from Revelation 21:3-4. Here’s the text:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”

I’ve known this passage from Revelation for over 40 years. I can almost quote it verbatim. So if you had asked me “What’s the first thing God does in the new creation?” I could have answered “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.” But, honestly, until Scotty pointed to that line, teaching it truthfully and illustrating it poignantly, I had never before considered the striking implications of this verse.
Tomorrow I’ll share some of those implications with you. Today, I want to thank Scotty Smith for his outstanding teaching, his tender pasturing, and his friendship. It was a blessing to have him at Laity Lodge, and I look forward to his next visit.

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