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Following a Lamb in a World Addicted to Power

09/17/2012

I can’t think of two other verses that are more jolting than these two in chapter 5 of Revelation.

5) Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6)Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne…(Revelation 5:5, 6 NIV)

I think, in general, we buy into the claim made in verse 5. We believe that Jesus has triumphed and thus orient our lives around that good news. We do not shy away from proclaiming that Jesus, the Lion, has conquered the world and then seek to live accordingly.

I like these sentiments. I agree wholeheartedly. However, I am concerned that too often we stop reading after verse 5, thus not letting the ridiculousness of verse 6 capture our hearts and minds. Let me explain.

The uniqueness of the Christian faith is not that our God has conquered the world. There are lots of people, throughout history, who have believed that their particular god or ruler sits on the throne. The uniqueness, the radical claim, of the Christian faith is that the world has been saved, conquered and renewed by a slain Lamb. This is what is so startling about John’s vision. He, along with so many others, was waiting for the Lion of Judah to rise up and take the throne. And for a brief moment it appeared that a lion was the one who had indeed conquered. But, when John looked to see the conqueror sitting on the throne, he did not see a powerful lion. John saw a little Lamb, looking as if it had been slaughtered. An innocent Lamb ruled the cosmos. There was no lion around. This must have sent John reeling. It surely shocked his readers. And I hope it jolts us a bit as well.

I hope it jolts us because we need verse 6 to remind us that, while the Lion of Judah is our king, the lion is actually a slain Lamb. We need to be reminded because we are much more attracted to the power of a lion than the love of a Lamb. And when we forget verse 6, we begin to look a lot like every other group out there trying to conquer the world. When we forget verse 6, we start to think that we are to utilize any power we can get a hold of, whether political, social, financial, or physical to reach our ends. When we forget verse 6, the cross becomes something that we paint on our shields, not something that we take up and carry. May we not shy away from claiming that Jesus, the Lamb, has conquered the world and then seek to live accordingly.

I wonder what would happen to our churches if we let our imaginations run wild with verse 6. For our churches are most beautiful when they act less like lions and more like lambs.

This is what John is calling the seven churches to do. He recognizes how easy it is to be seduced by the political, economic, military and social power of the Roman Empire. This kind of power seemed to be winning the day. And, at times, it seems that it is still winning today. But, in reality, when you have eyes to see, it is a slain Lamb who has won. And the church is called to be a faithful witness to Jesus Christ, the slain Lamb, in the midst of a world addicted to power. Or, as Michael Gorman puts it:

“Christian resistance to empire and idolatry conforms to the pattern of Jesus Christ and of his apostles, saints, prophets (like John), and martyrs: faithful, true courageous, just, and nonviolent. It is not passive but active, consisting of the formation of communities and individuals who pledge allegiance to God alone, who live in nonviolent love toward friends and enemies alike, who leave vengeance to God, and who, by God’s Spirit, create mini-cultures of life as alternatives to empire’s culture of death. This is a Lamb-shaped or cross-shaped (cruciform) understanding of discipleship and mission.”

I like that description of the church: mini-cultures of life. That is what, by the grace of God, we are trying to nurture in Phayao. The challenge before us, though, is daunting. For it is difficult to show someone there is a Creator God when none existed for them beforehand. And it is even more difficult to help others see that that God sent His Son to earth to save and renew creation. But, it is almost unbelievable to think that we can get people to surrender their lives to a God who was crucified, to a king who looks like a slain Lamb. But, we trust that there will be some, by the power of the Spirit, who catch a glimpse of the beauty that comes from following a God who lays down His life for the ones He loves. And when a few begin to follow the way of this slain Lamb, we will be witnesses to the kingdom of God bursting forth in Phayao. May it be so where you are as well.

The slain Lamb sits on the throne; may we live accordingly.

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2 comments

  1. Keep writing to remind us to live accordingly…….


  2. Thanks, Derran. You write well. And what you write is challenging and encouraging.



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