Law, force, authority, and power. We like to think we’re free. But all of us are subject to things that have their way with us.
Aging. You can’t stop it. You can take care of yourself, but you get older every day — and you can’t change that. That’s a law. Time is always moving — and carrying us with it.
There are human laws, too, which we have to obey — or pay the consequences. If you don’t believe that, start violating some laws. You’ll soon encounter the force of the law upon you.
In addition to the police force, the force of gravity, and all the other forces that we submit to, there are also authorities and powers that affect us. Inflation is rising. That force is hitting us. There’s IRS, which taxes us. Other massive economic entities hold immense power over us: Facebook, Amazon, Google.
And there are bigger forces still: The pandemic continues to stalk us, killing millions and completely changing everything we do: School, work, worship, travel — all fundamentally changed — maybe forever. Politically, the rise of authoritarianism threatens democracies around the globe. Ecologically, the climate is changing, and if we don’t change our ways fundamentally and quickly — then disaster will come. Earth will be okay, but we certainly won’t.
Laws, forces, authorities, and powers dominate our lives. We like to think we’re free, but think again. So much is stacked against us. Hope is often hard to find.
But of all these forces that threaten us and our tomorrows, the good news is that the ultimate power belongs to God. Today is Christ the King Sunday, and its purpose is to remind us that Jesus Christ is bringing creation to fulfillment under his Easter reign of love, justice, and peace. While there are many forces in this world, Christ defeated the biggest, darkest power of all — death — and his Life shall reform, redeem, and resurrect this old world into a new creation.
In Revelation, we see the new creation arriving; God’s kingdom coming. We see tears being dried; death forever gone; grief turning to gladness; and Christ coming to make us one with God, life, and joy forever.
Revelation mostly scares us. So much so that we don’t ever see its hope. In that way, this book is a lot like life. Life has scary parts, but wonderful parts, too. The point is to endure the pain and live into the blessing — and share the joy. Faith helps us endure. Love helps us share. And hope — well, that’s the point of Revelation — and the whole Bible: Yes, things can be grim, but God is not going to abandon us. God will see us through to life, blessing, and peace.
The Bible is just one, large story of how ordinary people in big, hot messes kept looking to God and how God saved them. Out of slavery, pandemic, famine, war, death. Not because they were good but because God is good. God didn’t forsake them. God won’t forsake you.
Martin Luther said that sin is the refusal to believe that God’s promises apply to you. When we catch ourselves thinking — “Yes, God is good and God will save others — but not me” — that’s the lie of the evil one. Who are you to be worse than Moses, who was a murderer? Or Peter, who denied Christ? Or Paul, who persecuted the church?
Done something bad? Welcome to the club. Don’t think you’re worthy? No one is. Can’t see how anything good can come from where you are standing? You don’t need to see. That’s why it’s call faith. Faith is trusting that God is who God is supposed to be and that God is doing what God is supposed to do. Faith is trusting that and then living that — by repenting, loving, forgiving; by being generous, humble, patient, and peaceful.
We can do that in a world that is often hateful, greedy, and warlike because a new world is coming. Almighty God is making it so, and that promised future includes you.
Revelation’s purpose isn’t to scare us to death, but to strengthen us to live. Spoiler alert: In the end, God wins. So, hang in there. Things may be bad in your life today, but God is going to set all things right in the tomorrow that God is bringing.
On the nightstand by his deathbed, my dad kept this saying: “Fear not tomorrow for God is already there.” You don’t have to be afraid because in all our trials God is with us. Our Savior, who hung on the cross, hangs in there with us to see us from the darkness of our crucifixions to the dawning light of his Resurrection in which you shall stand.
Believe that truth; work to include others in that blessing; and know that as you do, God’s kingdom shall come. You’re going to be there. You are part of that Kingdom now — because you belong to Christ, the King and our Savior, who shall make it so.