What Rules Life: God or Stuff?

by Reverend Amanda

The book of Revelations is not preached on often in mainline Christian denominations. Most people approach this book with trepidation and fear. Fear because it speaks to the end of the world as we know it and a call to justice and to make accounts for the actions of one’s life. This is often used by many churches to push their way of believing and to force people into membership out of fear. Then there are many who look at Revelations purely from its historical past. This too is not an adequate way to read Revelations because it dismisses the message as not being relevant to Christians today. We need to read this book of the Bible carefully and somewhere between fear and history. This means that we learn the history, take it into account and respect the message of the author. For as Thich Nhat Hanh wrote,  “The kingdom of God is available to you in the here and the now. But the question is whether you are available to the kingdom”.[1] This is how we are to view the writings of Revelations. It offers to teach us how to free ourselves up to be available for the kingdom of God in the here and now.

Revelations was written by John. It was written to those many early Christian groups living each day in fear under the rule of the Roman Empire. They lived in fear because the Emperor hunted Christians down believing Christians to be dangerous to the welling of the Empire. Then these individuals were tortured and used as entertainment for the Roman populace in the arenas. The Romans would parade Christians through the streets decreeing the crimes they had committed. People would laugh at them, scream at them and spit on them. They were seen as traitors to the Roman Empire because at this time the Christians were a peaceful people refusing to fight on behalf of anyone or to recognize the deification of the Emperors.

The Christians were seen as traitors to the gods and goddesses, for turning their backs on their previous faiths. In the Hebrew world, they too were being killed in mass numbers for being followers of Christ, for abandoning the Torah and for following a false prophet. Christians were being attacked on all sides and they needed hope and yearned for a time of peace and yes they yearned for justice for the pain they were experiencing and the fear they and their families lived in each and every day. Revelations was the vision that gave these people just that. And it is the vision that offers us the same hope and peace that we all yearn for in our lives and in this world.

Yes we are no longer being killed in mass numbers for our faith. There is no one in this country hunting us down or watching us die for sport. But we too live in a world of chaos. We live in a world where we need to be reminded who we are being loyal too and what truly rules our lives. The people of the ancient world had to be reminded who their king was. Their king was not the rulers of the empires they were a part of. Their king was Christ the King of Kings and the only one who could offer to these people hope for a future, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for peace in a time of great turbulence in society.

John’s revelations promise the end of all corrupt Earthly kingdoms and rulers and the establishment of a kingdom lead by Christ and later by God. A kingdom where the just would not suffer and people could live in harmony and peace. We too need to think about who/what controls our lives.

For us it may not be any Earthly government or kingdom, but perhaps we would gain more insight into what is ruling our lives by looking at our lives. Our lives are filled with planners, games, computers, cell phones, television, sports, addiction and music. There is so much loud chaos ruling our lives. More and more often we hear how people are using or abusing the internet to control one another. Just in the past couple of years with the advent of facebook there have been teenagers who have committed suicide because of such cyber bullying. You go into a restaurant and people are sitting on their cell phones instead of speaking to their spouse or partner.

Children are watching close to 4 + hours of television a day and are becoming desensitized to violence. Marriages are falling apart because people are more dedicated to their vices, then they are to their spouses and children. There are individuals in our society that focus the entirety of their lives upon the obtaining of wealth and prestige instead of focusing their lives on what is truly important; love, family and relationships with God and community.

So in today’s day and age we are still struggling with the same questions as those early Christians. Who do we follow in our lives and where do we place our focus and attention? These questions are not ones that have easy answers especially with all that nags at us in life. But the answer to these questions could help us to find our way through the foggy chaos of modern life. Reminding us to place others and Christ first in life as opposed to the stuff in our homes and in our pockets.

We live in an age when we desperately need to be reminded to examine who we are allowing to be our Lord. What are we allowing to control our lives, our decisions, and our actions? Then it is important to ask whether what we have allowed to control us is bringing us down the right paths of life. Or is this hurting our loved ones and our selves. Remember the words of Saint John as he wrote,

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account
all the tribes of the earth will wail.

So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.[2]

Christ gave to us freedom and still offers us freedom from all that hinders us and bogs us down in life. We just need to be aware of what is blocking our pathways to the Holy. We need to be aware of what we place importance on. We need to actively chose to put Christ in charge of our lives allowing him to offer us a securer future and a more peaceful future. So this morning I leave you with this question to ponder as we prepare ourselves for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Who do you place as Lord of your lives? And then ensure that God, love, and family hold that special place of honor in our lives.

[1] Thich Nhat Hanh, 21st century Buddhist monk.

[2] Revelations 1: 6-8, NRSV.