We have stated in the previous posts in this series that the New Jerusalem, and the New Heaven and Earth are synonymous with the New Covenant. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 if you would like the background and since they are a series, that would be the best way to do it.
Over the history of the church, especially from the Reformation on, there has been an apparent disconnect between the gospel as Paul explained it, justification by faith, imputed righteousness, personal salvation, and the gospel that Jesus preached which had strong overtones of social justice embedded in it. This is especially true in the United States of America. The former has emphasized sexual morality over social morality. While it is true that some Protestants have emphasized honesty and integrity in business, and dealings with humanity in general, with a few exceptions, social justice has been ignored.
The merciful, progressive aspects of Levitical Law have been ignored and therefore, the God of the Old Testament is seen as harsh. Take for example Matthew 5:38 HCSB "You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Jesus was reminding them of Exodus 21:24 HCSB "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot," This was actually at the time it was written to the Jews, reform. While it may seem harsh and severe today, it was a merciful reform at the time the Law was given. Then, a person would pay for an infraction like that with their life or their head. This makes an eye for an eye comparatively merciful. In ignorance, modern day, evangelicals use this as an excuse to show that God is also tough. Jesus, mission included many things. Yes he came to be the savior; to pay our penalty for sin; to grant us his righteousness as a free gift, and to reconcile us back to the Father, but He also came to establish further reform. He said instead of an eye for an eye, one should turn the other cheek. Christ followers, Christians should always be on the forefront of social reform. They should never be silent and overlook injustice and poverty.
That is precisely where Paul's revelation about justification, imputed righteousness, reconciliation with the Father should come into play. Our peace with the Father, (Romans 5:1,) should cause a love for God that would make us want to be loving toward our fellow man. It should allow us to become socially conscious. The New Jerusalem, the City of God coming down from the heavenly rule of the Kingdom of God, should first and foremost establish reform. Our institutions should be reformed by the love and grace of God. Isn't it odd that Jesus statement on the judgment of humanity would be predicated upon social justice issues? Matthew 25:31-46 is a passage about judgment... the judgment of God. Judgment would be based on feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless and visiting the sick and those in prison.
Certainly, the present political and social climate here in the U.S. with most evangelical Christians points to the fact that all of Christendom is gross error. They place so much emphasis on sexual morality and the rights of the unborn, but are morally bankrupt when it comes to social justice. They make sure the children are born, but if they starve to death, or suffer from hunger, well, they just chalk that up to lazy parents.
Those who think that they are so theologically and biblically correct are misguided hypocritical fools, that are drunk on their folly.
I want to include all of the posts in this series so that you can read it as a series.
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4