Tim Keller

If you’re a person who wants to do mission in the world, you’re going to find you’re always frustrated because people don’t listen to you. You try to work against poverty, and after a lifetime of it, it doesn’t seem to be any better. Mission can be pretty doggone frustrating. However, at the very end here it says, ‘Then, the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.’

What is then? ‘… may all the peoples praise you.’ Most commentators believe (I’m almost certain they’re right), the word then is looking way into the future. It’s saying we actually don’t build great community. We don’t share the truth well. We don’t do justice, but a time is coming when the land will yield its harvest.

It’s talking about the new heavens and the new earth. It’s talking about the ultimate springtime, after which there will be no more winter, the ultimate harvest, after which there will be no lands lying fallow. It’s looking forward to the time in which God ultimately blesses us, renews the new heavens and new earth, and all the peoples of the world begin to praise him. It’s looking to the very end.

I had a great experience this last June when I was doing one of the little courses we teach in the summer. I had a chance to read Tolkien’s essay on why fairy tales still move people. Modern critics hate the fact that so many of the biggest movies and biggest selling books are still about dragons, knights, witches, and stuff like that. They say, ‘Come on. Let’s get realistic.’

Tolkien has this great essay on why we will never stop reading, watching, or writing fairy tales. In a book about Tolkien’s essay, the writer basically says, ‘Tolkien says fairy tales move us in a way realistic fiction does not. Even the best realistic fiction is moving, but fairy tales move us in a way that realistic fiction cannot. Why? Because fairy tales speak to several deep human longings that we are almost ashamed to admit, and that we never can discard.’

The writer continues, ‘We long to survey the depths of time and space. We long to get outside of time altogether and escape death. We long to hold communion with other living things like angels. We long to find a love that perfectly heals, and from which we can never part, and we long to triumph over evil, finally and totally.’

He concludes, ‘When you are in the middle of a great fairy tale, the fairy tale lets you live, even briefly, with the dream that love without parting, escape from death, triumph over evil, are real and realizable. That’s why the stories stir us so deeply, and why we will go on reading and writing them no matter what the critics say.’

The gospel’s message is that through Jesus Christ, every single one of these things the fairy tales talk about is true and will come to pass. We will hang out with angels. We will fly. We will have loves from which we’re never parted. We will see an absolute triumph over evil. There is a beauty who will kiss you in all your beastliness, and transform you. There is a Prince who will save us forever. Let that be your consolation in mission. Let’s pray.

Our Father, we thank you that every single week when we worship, after we’ve heard the gospel, our names are written in heaven, someday there will be a new heaven and new earth, everything sad will become untrue, and all of our deepest human longings will come to pass. In the knowledge of that, we can go forth into the world to serve as those who love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, out of thankfulness.

We pray that you would send us out today knowing what we’re going to do and sensing your love on our heart. And we pray that you would make us, as a church, a church for this city. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

– Tim Keller

Words found in Tim Keller’s 2008 Sermon, “Thanks Be to God!” (Psalm 67)