And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals,

for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God

from every tribe and language and nation,

and You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,

and they shall reign on the earth.”

Revelation 5: 8-10

 

Contained within these few words and short song that is tucked into the early chapters of John’s prophetic vision about what is to come are words of real encouragement and also valuable direction for the way that we should be thinking and acting today. I admit that most of what is stated in The Revelation of Jesus Christ is mysterious. In fact, I believe that God made it that way deliberately so that we would stay living in the here and now and not just decide that we would focus our attention on the promise of the Lord’s return and the end of all that is miserable and lost in our world. Additionally, we are called by Christ to respond to Him and to His supreme sacrifice on our account by following Him and going into all of the world and by seeking to make disciples of everyone that we encounter there.

 

This idea can be very difficult in our times and in our current world condition. There are too many enemies out there. There is so very much anger and hatred and pain to confront. No one is insulated from it, and all of us are impacted by the multitude of ways that people can find to maim, marginalize, and oppress others. Angry ideologies and theologies are commonplace in our discourse. It is hard to encounter much in the way of genuine compassion, care, mercy, and love that is lived out in our communities. Unfortunately, the loveless communities of our world include far too many of our faith-based gatherings. Still, Christ tells us that His blood was spilled in order to purchase the freedom of people from “Every tribe and language and nation.” Christ’s language is that of inclusion. It speaks of a totality that eliminates the differences that have come as a result of sin.

 

It seems to me that as we seek to follow Christ we need to stop speaking in a nationalistic and racially or even a religiously prejudiced voice. The events that are occurring in our world should not change this. In fact, when evil strikes, people who know Christ need to respond with fearless love that seeks out the lost and the marginalized in our society and that at least presents the truth of God’s unending love for all people to them. This means that we walk through life with people who make us uncomfortable. Christ calls us to enter into life with people who are truly “the others”. These are people who think differently than us, who believe in a god that is not the same as ours, who dress and speak in ways that are strange to us, and who often are fearful of us and of our intent. Our journey through life would then follow the same sort of path that Jesus walked. This starts with our prayers. I think that these are the same ones that are being poured out in this psalm of healing and reconciliation. We can fill those golden bowls with prayers for all of the people in our world who make us angry, fearful, and uncomfortable. Then we need to reach out the hand of loving fellowship and peace to everyone we meet. In doing this we join with Christ in bringing true love to a lost world.