On My Mind...

What a great day Sunday!  Despite many dealing with sickness, including several dealing with COVID, we had a good crowd for worship Sunday morning and a good showing for the fellowship Sunday evening.  The food was great and the competition was fierce.  In our annual chili battle, Keith Cannon emerged victorious.  Jim Narrin and Eliza Graham followed closely behind.  Eliza claimed the prize on the soup side with Teresa Smith and Lisa Cannon finishing just behind.  Lincoln and Hannah Beard took the Corn Hole Challenge ahead of Austin Green and Eliza Graham.  I appreciate all of you who brought food, the desserts were wonderful as always, but more importantly your presence made the evening.

Sunday mornings we are working our way through Peter’s letter to the elect exiles and considering faithfulness in an unfaithful world.  So much of what Peter deals with is relevant to today’s world.  Living faithfully in a hostile environment is the repeated theme.  As I was thinking about that this morning another Scripture came to mind, John’s letter that closes the New Testament.  In reading through Revelation chapter 1 this morning, I noticed the same theme.  John’s point in writing, much like Peter’s, was to encourage believers in the face of increasing hostility.  For many people the emperor Domitian’s demand that he be worshiped as God was not a problem.  They were polytheists with a multitude of gods in a hierarchy to begin with.  Adding one more god was no big deal but for Christians there is only one Lord and God.  They could not offer sacrifice or utter the words.  Thus, to remain faithful to Christ was to face intense hostility and possibly death.  While dying for your faith may not be an immediate concern for you – it is to millions around the world today.  But increasingly in our own culture it is difficult to faithfully and consistently stand for Christ and biblical truth.  Those of us who take our faith seriously are being marginalized.  Our faith is labeled as “intolerant” and “bigoted.”  Like our first century brothers and sisters we are being told, “Go ahead and believe in Jesus, just acknowledge these other gods as well.”  And when we refuse – there is a price to pay.

How do we remain faithful in the face of distrust and aggression?  How do we live and preach the truth of Christ in a world that is increasingly hostile toward us?  When we find ourselves in a culture bent on suppressing our faith, what are we to do?  John’s answer is a confident hope, a clear vision and a compelling conviction.  Faithfulness and consistency demands a confident hope in the sure and certain return of Christ, our victorious redeemer.  The message of Revelation is not “hidden” it’s very up front.  Christ, the victorious One, the conqueror is coming again.  John speaks of all these things happening “soon.”  The emphasis is on the certainty of His coming.  The wording of verse 8, “…who is to come,” could be read as, “is on the way.”  Our confidence and faithfulness is inspired by the fact our king is coming.  He is on the way.  But there is also a clear vision of the majesty and the glory of our king.  That is the focus of verses 9-16.  We have this glorious description of the rise Lord.  Eyes flaming with fire, feet burnished bronze (symbolic of great strength), and a voice like the roar of many waters (authority) and finally his face shining in full strength, like the noonday sun (majesty).  All other authorities fade to insignificance before Him.  Finally, John makes reference to our king’s sovereignty (1:17-20).  When discouraged and disheartened John was given a vision of the living, holy, majestic, omniscient, authoritative, powerful Christ standing in the midst of his church saying, “Stop fearing.  I was dead but now I’m alive forever.  More than that I have the keys to death and the grave.  I’m still your king.”

Such knowledge, such understanding does not take away the pain or struggle.  Life in this fallen, sin-cursed world is painful.  Heartache and sorrow are our constant companions in this life, but we will overcome.  We will emerge victorious in Christ.  Take heart child of God a glorious future is secured for you.

I’ll see you Sunday.