Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ironic Irenic Victory

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35 – 39.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” Romans 12:1 – 2a.

“And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…” Revelation 5:6a

“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” Revelation 21:22.

“The one who conquerors will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” Revelation 21:7.

In Revelation it is the Lamb who conquerors by His death and resurrection; those who follow Him in suffering, in death, also follow Him in resurrection; those who suffer for their identification with God and Christ conquer; those who identify with the irenic Lamb experience ironic victory. The irony is that in the Cross, in apparent defeat, there is certain victory.

And so Paul writes that we are as lambs marked out for slaughter; lambs marked out for sacrifice. Just as there were daily sacrifices in the Levitical Temple, so are there daily sacrifices in the everlasting Temple of God and of the Lamb, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long…” Read the above passage in Romans again, consider the adversities and vicissitudes of life enumerated by Paul – are not these things…sword, famine, death, rulers, tribulation…are they not all described in Revelation? And just as in Revelation those who follow the Lamb and are partakers of Him overcome the chaos of the serpent, so in Romans those who are in the fellowship of the sacrificial Lamb, following Him in sacrificial living, are more than conquerors, more than overcomers. We see the trajectory of sacrificial living extended into Romans 12 – “present your bodies living sacrifices”.

Everyday we who follow Christ are called to follow Christ the Lamb as lambs marked out for slaughter; everyday we are called to take up the Cross, deny ourselves, and follow Jesus. Everyday we are invited to the altar (Colossians 1:24) to share in the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10) in order to bear witness to the world of Christ the Lamb. Everyday we are called to allow the peace of God to rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15).

The primary image of Christ throughout Revelation is that of the Lamb. He is the Lamb from the throne room in Chapter 5 through the New Jerusalem in Chapters 21 and 22. He is not primarily portrayed as a mighty warrior, He is not primarily portrayed as a king or lord, He is not primarily portrayed as a lion; His portrayal as the Lamb towers above all other portrayals in Revelation, it envelopes them all, it absorbs them all. It is the Lamb who has redeemed us, the Lamb who was slain, the Lamb who has loved; and yes, it is the Lamb who judges.

The irony is that it is the Lamb who first conquered that most hideous of enemies, death; the irony is that it is His irenic (peaceful) followers who, also as lambs marked for slaughter, conquer as He conquers; they conquer through peace, through love, through purity, through not loving their lives even unto death.

Revelation is written, in part, to encourage us to follow the Lamb in His sufferings, in His purity, in His uncompromising devotion to the Father – a devotion expressed in sacrificial love and peace toward others. It is written, in part, to warn us not to adopt the methods and ways of the world and the Beast in warfare, in argument, in politics, in world affairs, in economics, in disrespect of authority, in idol worship. Above all it is written that we might see Jesus the Lamb, and that seeing Him we might live securely in Him, following Him all the days of our lives in the certainty that we are more than conquerors.

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