September 22, 2022
In many ways, The Book of Revelation touches on the political and cultural sitz im leben, or "setting in life." John was given his vision while living in a specific cultural, political, and economic context. The people who first read this book understood many of the couched criticisms and condemnations.
In many ways, The Book of Revelation reinforces the truth expressed several times in Scripture that "we are in the world but not of the world." We genuinely avoid hyper-partisanship in politics. We work to keep materialism from running rampant. We manage as best we can a consumerist mindset. We struggle against how just about everything in our culture is sexualized/sensualized. It's even happening at the elementary level in public schools. Where's the line between becoming Amish or hedonistic?
In many ways, just as The Book of Revelation critiqued and criticized and condemned the wrongness and wickedness of its time, so, too, is it appropriate for us to do the same thing. There is nothing inherently wrong with doing any of these things. Our Good and Gracious God has told us there is plenty of reason to do these things.
In many ways, Christians need to stay on top of scandal and bad teaching from those who claim to be believers. The prosperity gospel immediately comes to mind. So does the leading Baptist theologian who said, "We have a responsibility to make certain that Christians understand the stewardship of the vote, which means the discipleship of the vote, which means the urgency of the vote, the treasure of the vote and they need to understand that insofar as they do not vote or they vote wrongly, they are unfaithful because the vote is a powerful stewardship." There's a lot to parse in that short paragraph. But many who read it say it sounds like there is a wrong way and a right way to vote. We hear that expressed from both right and left. A person's vote, whatever it is, is between that person and God. We all must be careful about passing judgment on someone's Christian faith based on how they vote.
In many ways, we have to be discerning when considering the chatter of the Christian marketplace. One woman calls herself a “pioneer” in high-level prayer, pointing to her decades of experience as a minister of the Gospel, televangelist and self-proclaimed prophetess. Her International Prayer Institute is offering a class in person:
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The Prayer Institute Tote Bag
The Prayer Institute Binder
Exclusive Prayer Institute Journal
Mantling of a Full Prayer Shawl
Sacred Anointing Oil
The Prayer Institute Certificate
Q & A (at the end of each intensive)
Oh, and did I mention, you get all this for the price of $1499.99, and you don't need a promo code!
In many ways, we have to keep our heads on a swivel. We don't want to fall for the things of this world that promise what only can be given by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it, "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever." We do that in faithfulness to the Bible and guided by the Fruit of the Spirit defined in Galatians 5:22-23. Stay on that road to best avoid the dangers, toils, and snares of living in this world without being of this world.
In many ways, we can have conversations and express thoughts about what is wrong with this world. The Book of Revelation makes that very clear. And we all know, there is much wrong in the world. The current state of affairs in America ain't so groovy. The President is more divisive than he said he'd be, when he's aware of where he's at and what he's doing. Elected officials seem more focused on grinding axes than working together to solve problems. And both dominating political parties want to spend your hard-earned money, only difference being, one party promises a slower burn rate. How on earth are 87,000 new IRS people going to reduce inflation? What can be done about the shape we're in?
In many ways, our conversations can turn negative, whiny, and even cynical. I find myself sometimes falling into that stream. I love how journalist Adam B. Coleman puts it:
"The one thing in the world you can't buy is time yet so many
people waste so much of it arguing over trivial nonsense. Time is
precious so do something worthwhile."
There are issues we need to be engaged with. The Bible has much to say about what is right and wrong, and how we are to navigate through the mess. The challenge is finding what to be passionate about. Whatever we do, we are called to love God…love each other…and love our community. Our primary charge is to leave our little corner of God's world better than we found it. At times, that's going involve calling out the buffoonery, from both elected and appointed officials, and push back against their wickedness. Simply make sure you're doing it from solid Biblical and theological footing. American Reformed theologian Keith A. Mathison sums it up this way:
"If I have faith in Christ, if I am sorrowful for my sins and
repenting of them, if I am cultivating the fruit of the Spirit and
putting to death the deeds of the flesh, I am showing the fruits of
We have been chosen to follow Jesus, reflecting his Truth and Light in our world.
In many ways, we are strangers living in a strange land. The Book of Revelation pulls no punches pointing out the evil that surrounds us. Our job is to reflect the Christian character traits of Galatians 5:22-23. Our job is to celebrate what is good and right and just about our world. Our job is to work to make our church and community havens of rest and respite from a fallen world. There is so much around us to cherish and treasure. We thank God for it all. We are in this world but not of this world.
And now, your Moment of Spurgeon:
"Old age robs us of personal beauty, and deprives us of strength
for active service; but it does not lower us in the love and favour
With Much Love and Affection,