For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

2 Peter 1: 16-18

We live in a time in world history where there is a striking absence of truly authoritative leadership. We are surrounded by people that wield power and that hold out their wisdom as if it were of supreme value, but the test of truth calls the lie in all of these claims. The voices that demand our loyalty and that attempt to impose their wills upon our nations are speaking out of the shallow depths of their own human reason as they too frequently make demands that are not in any way related to God’s Word of truth and life. This sort of worldly authority is, in fact, fueled by arrogance, and it draws far too many people into its enticing wasp trap of Spirit quenching death.

Peter was present when the one and the only, the singular, Lord God of the Universe proclaimed that Jesus was truly His Son. So, at that time, God was also proclaiming the conveyance of authority to rule over all of the earth as its sole rightful King. Jesus retains the right to pronounce judgement upon all that transpires in our world, and through His Spirit, He also provides all of the wisdom and counsel that we need in order to live as godly people. That is, the Spirit guides us into thinking and acting in a manner that will please God and that will bring the Kingdom of God into view in our world. When we are following Christ justice, mercy, peacemaking, and love for all people prevail. As people in positions of authority submit to Christ, they can do nothing other than promote these same well-articulated Godly characteristics.

As God’s character and nature are seldom seen in the words and the actions of many of our world’s leaders, one must surely question whether these people are actually submitted to Christ. For the vast majority of us, those who elect leaders and whose voice they should desire to hear, we should be questioning the sorts of opinions that we express to our elected rulers as we should also carefully consider the Christ-likeness of those for whom we vote. For, if Christ was truly proclaimed to be King and was so granted the authority to rule over this world, as attested to by Peter, then it is His heart-felt proclamation of grace and love for our neighbors that must prevail in the outworking of all of our earthly governance. There is no authority on earth that is superior to Jesus, and there is no rule of law that exceeds the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

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.

 

 

Him (Christ) we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Colossians 1: 28

 

Paul makes a very widely inclusive statement here. In the body of Christ there are no greater and lesser people, no more and less worthy, no important and insignificant members. All are in need of both warning and teaching. All of us are also capable and qualified to be the voice of the truths that God has imparted to us. Everyone who is in Christ has His Spirit within, and the Spirit provides wisdom and insight and speaks the eternal truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ to our hearts and minds. All of this has both a goal and a purpose that are integral to God’s plan for the redemption of creation.

 

God works through people as He engages in relationship with us. That is a part of why He has granted to us the gifts of His Word and of the presence of His Spirit. God’s Word informs and instructs, it convicts and it encourages, and it leads us into a deeper relationship with the Lord as He speaks to us through it. The Holy Spirit is at the center of all of God’s revelation and is the agent who works the transformation that comes about as we mature in Christ. In all of this God calls His people into active engagement with our world and with other people in particular. Our faith is to be lived out in public and with real transparency.

 

As Christ leads, so we must follow. This includes being honest and real within our fellowships of believers. We all struggle, and everyone exists in a status that is far short of full maturity in Christ. We each lack wisdom, fail to love well, and falter in our faith and trust. On the other hand, Christ does answer our weakness with His strength, and He often does so through the love, concern, and words of correction and of encouragement that come from others in the body of Christ. Each of us has the privilege and the responsibility of entering into the lives of others for the sake of allowing Christ to grow them up toward maturity. In the process of doing this, the Lord also works within us to grow us toward the same goal.