I saw this video from a fellow blogger that I like to follow. I find NT Wright to be very enlightening for todays Christians. Though he sits in a tradition where an older, higher liturgy is upheld, he has good insights for those who have a more open worship style or have no tradition of worship (or even no tradition of christianity). Let me know what you think.
I was studying Revelation recently. I just wanted to do a word study on how the word new is used. Looking into the word reminded of the old game shows where someone was waiting to see what was behind door number one.
“A NEW CAR”
“A NEW BOAT”
“A NEW BEDROOM”
The host was excited. So was the contestant. Even I was excited, since I was yelling at my screen that they should pick 7 instead of 3. There is something exciting about getting something free.
Revelation is kind if like that. Christ is busy revealing himself to John, the seven churches, and to us. All throughout the book is a form of epic where good was pitted against evil and won.
At first John shows us through two churches (Pergamum and Philadelphia) in Chapter 2 and 3 of Revelation. If you take time to read it, it shows us that we have a new name. In case you’re wondering, the obvious name that we end up having is Israel, which in turn is us taking on the name of Christ. We are victorious in Christ and we are seen as the Israel of the New Covenant, to steal a term from the writer of Hebrews.
I think it is significant that each and every individual, when they place themselves in the hands of God by identifying with Christ, can find themselves as part of the movement of a new name and a new identity (at least new in the sense that Christ is not a very old name in the world at the time that John is writing this).
And as we journey further into Revelation, we hear the mighty, victorious characters singing new songs to an even mightier and victorious King (5:19 & 14:3). In the two references they both are new songs and we can’t help but here the promise that God is great and has acted on our behalf. Can you imagine wondering if the emperor was going to say that Christians need to be sought out and beheaded tomorrow like these Christians did and hear this letter? To modernize it, imagine Congress passing a law forbidding public prayer, Bible recitation, or even wearing a cross. If you do, you get life or a death sentence. Now imagine someone writing you a letter. A letter that seems beyond your imagination. How could there be saints and great ones of God singing songs that are new and full of joy and adoration? How can we sing at all in the moments of the “dark night of the soul?”
The dark night of the soul…
Sounds like something we have all experienced at one point or another.
A parent or child dies,
A unexpected bill comes in when the budget is already not enough,
A man is humiliated because of his race, class, or position on theological things.
You could make the list go on forever. But what John knows is that believers in his day were in a very dark night. They were the minority. The were not a legitimate religion in the eyes of society. Lies were developing about them like they all sleep with each other, they burned down Rome, or they eat people when they worship.
Things keep coming up.
and when you think they can’t take any more,
society periodically keeps hurting them or killing them.
We all go through different shades of the night. Some of us have clouds covering the moon and we have to feel around with only the light of hope to guide us. Some of us still have moon light. Not the most optimal light, but it at least makes you confident in the next step.
But one thing is for sure, we see a great light peering over the horizon.
For 2000 years it has been rising.
And one day, we will see that fullest light. It will warm our cold hearts completely.
We will see and no longer slumber.
No one will slumber.
That is what is new in Revelation. John has seen the coming dawn just barely peeping over the mountain. And wants us to see that.
Whether you live in the West or other places in the world where Christianity is left alone or even honored or you live in parts of the world where people are suspicious or even hostile to the Gospel, God is breaking in. He is doing a new thing. Christ is making all things new (21:5). He was continuing that in John’s day and he does it in ours.
Granted, fallen nature is still around us in death and oppression and wrongs people do.
But there are plenty of instances in the history of God’s action that good inspired by Him has happened. I hope Christians keep pursuing what is new and sing the new songs of those who live for His glory.
So when we are oppressed and marginalized, let’s remember that light is coming over the mountain. And when we see others going through night, let’s remember to point them towards that light, at least by walking towards it if not telling them about it. Let’s share the light with oppressors in loves since that too is walking towards the light. And remember that when the new day comes, God will look down to us and with that loud and thunderous voice say,
“YOU ARE MINE, BECAUSE I SAW YOU WALKING TOWARDS MY LIGHT.”
Grace and peace to those who seek the new kingdom and the new king who was and is.