This week's Watchword, Easter Four:
Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb! Revelation 7:10.
The "salvation" Rome offered the hearers of Revelation came at a grim expense: the denial of Christian baptism and community, the repudiation of anything having to do with Jesus Christ, betraying anyone in the church. And you still might not escape with your life. It makes you wonder how the churches survived the persecution described in sometimes horrific detail in the book.
I have to think that Christian gatherings become known as a place of safety and refuge. That hanging with them was safe in the practical and everyday, not just forever. Hence Revelation also teaches about the rewards, as well as the potential consequences, of patient endurance in hard times. One of those is that the hand of evil and persecution is actually limited by the goodness and faithfulness and integrity of Christians.
That is, the extremely difficult times are made more bearable whenever we are who we say we are- followers of Jesus. Whenever we are, in Jesus' owns words, light. (Matthew 5:14) From Heath and Kisker, in Longing for Spring, p. 58: according to Unchristian, "over 80% of people 16-29 have a negative view of Christianity and church because of, in part, the hypocrisy and self-serving swagger of Christians."
Yes, salvation- peace, safety, restoration- all belong to our God in Jesus. And because of that, we are safe to hang with, in God's love and grace.
Teacher, bring angels to us today, and give us the wisdom and depth of faith to show them hospitality and friendship. As we do to the least of these, we do to you. Let us freshly hear those words. Amen.
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