LENT REFLECTION - DAY 24
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father - to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Revelation 1: 5b -6
Last week in our reflections on Colossians we learned how Paul referenced unbelievers as outsiders. With the focus within western societies on inclusivity, we may question whether talk of insiders and outsiders is helpful today. Here in Revelation a divergence between insiders and outsiders arises again. Written into the images, symbols, cultural and linguistic codes we find messages that at the time insiders (believers) alone would find meaningful.
As we read Revelation, we have to remember, that it was written to unveil, uncover and reveal the mysteries of Christ primarily to believers living at the time, and secondarily to those who might read it in the future. These believers needed teaching that directed them to live with eternal hope of the world to come. Encouragement to persevere in the faith, not to succumb to the spirit of the age or give up because of suffering. In Asia, whilst the churches in Ephesus, Thyatira, Sardis and Laodicea were struggling not to compromise and be complicit within their pagan context, there were other churches where believers were being persecuted for their reticence to worship the Roman Emperor and unwillingness to deny Christ.
Today the very same struggle exists around the world. There are parts of Christ's church that live in relatively safe regions where freedoms exist to worship Christ and to openly practice faith. In these regions the challenge for the believer remains the same to avoid complicity and diluting Jesus' teaching or becoming lukewarm (Rev 2:16) . In other regions of the world life for the believer is harder - being open about faith in Jesus can be life limiting for you and your family. In societies where there is limited freedom to worship images, symbols, cultural and linguistic codes become significant again providing both meaning in adversity and protection from those who persecute. As we start another week let us remember the blessing of the present freedoms we enjoy, whilst praying for others for whom freedom remains an aspiration and hope.
Father God, we are so grateful that we in the UK can currently worship in relative freedom. We recognise a sacrifice was paid for our freedom by Your Son Jesus Christ and the gift of this freedom for which other generations also fought. In the midst of these freedoms help us to avoid complicity and diluting Jesus' teaching and power in our lives. We pray that the future generations of believers in this land would enjoy religious freedom too. We think of our brothers and sisters around the world that don't get to enjoy this freedom today and ask that You would protect and provide for them today. But also that You would strengthen believers in these and future generations and that one day they too would enjoy religious freedoms. We ask for blessing upon blessing for believers today. Amen.