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giving Pledge 2024

The Book of Revelation:
Meditations on Competition for Loyalty

Loyalty is a complicated topic in the world of faith and religion. Some

faiths, including many interpretations of Christianity, take a very strict view of
loyalty to the faith and to the gathered body of the faithful. They erect high walls
to separate the insiders from the outsiders, regularly policing their ranks for
“backsliders” and those who may have veered from the “narrow path”. Instead
of leading to a more “pure” and robust faith, this seems to lead many to a
self-righteous faith that must resist change or an anxious, self-obsessed faith
that constantly worries whether they can ever “believe enough”.

This is not what Jesus intended for us when He challenged us to consider our
loyalties. Above all things, Jesus asked us to consider what was in our hearts, and
whether we were aligning our actions with our hearts. As followers of Christ, we
are called to center our hearts on loving God, the Creator and Sustainer of all
things, rather than on idols, leaders, or ego. This same Jesus is the One John of
Patmos wrote his apocalypse about. John’s revelation asks us one question
through a variety of images, symbols, and stories: will we choose the Empire of
human power or the Kingdom of God’s reign?

John’s storytelling is epic and harsh, taking on cosmic proportions. Underneath
all the grand figures, though, is a question of where real power lies and which

powers are worth trusting. Bible Study SPOILER: the Beasts, the Whore of Baby-
lon, and the dragon are all symbolic representations of Rome and the Roman

Empire. That being said, they are not just about Rome, they are about Empire as
an ideology, as a way of governance over human corporate life. The slaughtered
Lamb is not the equal of these forces, but is far superior to them; it is the
incredible vulnerability and honesty of the Lamb which cuts like a “two-edged
sword” into the heart of Empire thinking.

As we encounter John’s apocalypse (a Greek word meaning “revealing/
unveiling”), we will be asking how this text calls us to align our lives and our
church with God’s vision for human life together. We will NOT waste time in
worship examining the brutality of the Beast, for we already know the capacity
for mis-aligned people to do great harm (the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka stand
as a current example). Our worship will serve as an invitation for alignment, not
simply an opportunity for entertainment. There will be no public displays of
piety, but there will be opportunity to witness to the power and the challenge of
remaining loyal to the God of Jesus Christ. As a church, we will consider how our
small non-profit is organizing its resources (money, property, people) in the
service of building Kingdom and resisting Empire. Above all else, we will center
our hearts on seeking right-relationship with our Creator and Sustainer.

In Peace and With Love,

Pastor Andrew

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