(This is the 12th post in a series on the Bible’s misunderstood, misused and abused Book of Revelation.)
It’s rather ironic, I suppose, that I’ve been making the case here for 12 days that the Bible’s Book of Revelation is, at bottom, a book about hope; a book about God’s triumph of love over evil; a book that amplifies (albeit it in a strange way) the good news of Jesus Christ.
With the recent cold-blooded murder of a pop singer and today’s slaughter of unsuspecting people in a gay bar in Orlando, Fla.–the home of Disney World–I can understand how someone might think that putting one’s trust in the promises of God is as foolish as trusting in the always happy Mickey Mouse.
With all the blood and tears flowing in such a great American city on this Sunday, it’s understandable that even many Christians are feeling pessimistic about the future of America and the world.
But here are three quick points I want to make:
1. Christian hope isn’t about optimism or pessimism. The Bible–least of all Revelation–doesn’t give a vision of happy, easy optimism.
It gives reason for hope in the Christ who rose in the Resurrection Event that shook even the evil forces of the world.
2. Blood and tears borne out of violence are flowing every hour of every day in violent-prone places around the world, including–God bless her–America.
I do not mean to diminish the pain and hurt that the people in Orlando are suffering at this moment by pointing out that the blood and tears flowing in so many streets in Chicago every day don’t get the wall-to-wall media coverage that Orlando is getting and will continue to get.
3. The Bible is a reminder that violence is an old, old story. Blood and tears borne out of violence have been flowing every hour of the every day in this broken, violent-prone world since a certain misguided character committed the first murder.
He killed his own blood brother, for God’s sake.
It seems that violence springs eternal.
But then there’s hope and you know what they say about it and how it springs.
Anglican theologian N.T. Wright notes how important it is that we interpret biblical hope properly by seeing the present work of healing and liberation “as the bridge between what happened in Jesus and what will happen in the end.”
Revelation as much as any other book in the Bible calls us to the work of healing and liberation, bridging the gaps of division in all their forms, be they subtle or insanely violent. God will make things right in “the end,” but that doesn’t mean we can sit on our hands and watch the violent, unjust world go by, doing nothing to make it more just and peaceful.
We’re called to be responsive to God, to be in partnership with God in our hearts and words and deeds, until the day God’s promises are fulfilled to the fullest.
Today’s takeaway on Day 12 with Revelation is:
12. Hope in the promise of God’s glory is not misplaced when we see God’s people working in such a seemingly hopeless world for the liberation and freedom of all people and for liberty and justice for all, regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, gender or any other identify.