Within hours of the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013, the slogan “Boston Strong” appeared on social media and rapidly began to spread around the world. The slogan gave rise to a T-shirt movement, other products and even appeared on the “Green Monster” at Boston’s Fenway Park. This slogan was a public expression of the people of Boston’s unity after a significant tragedy. It was a demonstration of non-violent love.
Sports history tells us that the Boston Bruins displayed the slogan on their helmets within two days of the bombings, and at the first Red Sox game the stadium announcer told the crowd: “We are one. We are strong. We are Boston. We are Boston strong.”
Since the original ‘Boston Strong’ movement, several cities have adopted the ‘Strong’ slogan as a way to unite communities in the wake of disaster, tragedy and evil. These ‘strong’ movements of love, peace and unity remind me of a similar Way.
History also tells us another person who demonstrated a radical non-violent way of being human. Christianity is the commitment to this way of living. To be a follower of Jesus means that we affirm this ‘hypostatic union’ of God and humanity coming together in the womb of Mary to produce the Christ child. It is a complete mystery and marvel to our fallen minds. We will never fully understand the supernatural cooperation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit combining within the womb of Mary to birth the Son of God. It truly is a wonderful thing. However, one thing we do know is that as the Living Word of God (Logos), Jesus came to earth in order to fulfill and demonstrate the Way of Yahweh. Jesus is the Way.
As God’s Word now sent into the world to accomplish a purpose, Jesus would not return to the Father void of fulfilling the mission. Isaiah prophesied about such a time (55:11). The word of the Lord will accomplish its mission, but in God’s way: the way of the Lamb.
At our church, we are looking at seven words to help us understand God’s Kingdom and our role within in. I am convinced that the Kingdom of God brings a clarity to our purpose, identity and mission in the world today. Jesus, the rightful King, has established His followers to be a kingdom who now act on His behalf. Our Kingdom Now journey is to help us remain faithful to Him and His ways. This is where the book of Revelation helps.
We are getting these seven words from the book of Revelation (5:12). “The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power, and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
These seven words are offered to Jesus in a chorus of praise and worship. They are significant. For me, the visions and prophecy that John receives is perhaps the most relevant word for followers of Jesus today. The book of Revelation contains these prophetic images and instructions for believers who are committed to the way of Jesus who is the Lamb of God. Revelation then, is call to be a faithful witness to the way of the Lamb. Jesus, as the Lamb of God, shows us a better way of being human; a way to be Lamb strong.
First, in His faithful and suffering death, Jesus has already demonstrated how God notably deals with the evil, but also how God’s people are to deal with evil. The good news of the gospel is a testimony to the death of Jesus giving the final blow to evil and death itself. The gospel writers (Mark, Luke, Matthew and John) vividly re-count how the evil beastly powers of Satan could not bring Jesus to respond violently to their diabolical scheme. Jesus humbly submitted Himself to the crowds, chiefs and courts that shouted crucify Him! Jesus’ subversive act of not confronting evil is profound. He will not be like any other ruler or Messiah figure known to the world. His ways are higher. This divine demonstration of non-violence on its own terms established a new way for all who follow Him. His death liberates from evil, death and violence all those who embrace Him. His self-sacrificial love is the divine revelation of God in the world. The follows of Jesus today are called to operate similarly in response to the evil, violent, beastly powers. The way of the Lamb is liberating, sacrificial love.
Second, as His faithful followers, we are called to battle the cosmic forces of darkness and chaos. It could be said that true spiritual existence in the world today means warfare. We are spirit-beings constantly searching for significance and meaning beyond our natural world. In our search for meaning and significance we constantly embrace, love and cherish things within ourselves. We have given things a throne. Whether we realize it or not, we have come to love, value and adore a plethora of created items. Vehicles, phones, ear pods and peanut butter can all find a way to control and dictate our appetites. We crave what we desire and we desire what we crave. In other words, we all have a heart problem that leads us into idolatry. We worship what we love, and the powers of darkness constantly try to lead us towards embracing created things over the Creator of all things. This is our battle, and it involves our mind, heart, and spirit. Jesus knows that true spiritual existence is warfare. Consider the times He spent overcoming temptation, false accusations and alternate routes presented before Him. His temptation in the wilderness alone demonstrates the diabolical nature of spiritual warfare. However, neither the Lamb nor His followers are to fight in any other way than faithfulness, even to the point of suffering and death. The strength of the Lamb was being faithful to His Father. The strength of the Lamb’s people is to remain faithful to the Lamb.
Third, since the defeat of evil is already in principle accomplished by the death of the Lamb as a non-violent act of faithfulness, His followers are called to the same level of faithful resistance. We live in a world that is addicted to violence and war. It is Cain’s story and ours. Throughout the centuries humanity has turned to clubs and weapons in order to establish dominance and strength. We have believed that strength is something physical. Webster’s tells us so. Such violent, vengeful thinking and behaviour is misaligned with God and leads one into the power of sin and the actions of the fallen beastly powers. Consider the warning to Cain back in Genesis. What was crouching at the door desiring to pounce?
The book Revelation and much of the NT remind us and testifies to the Lamb’s non-violent speech-act of faithful resistance. This incredible and astounding act of self-sacrificial love has initiated the defeat of evil that will fully and finally be accomplished and the end of the age. The cross began the process of destroying evil, so also will the Word of God, the eternal gospel, finally kill death and do away with evil when the same Christ returns. Until then, the followers of the Lamb are to carry on and engage in warfare via the same way. Our warfare is not carried out with weapons. We battle via words and deeds that are aligned with the Lamb of God who operated self-sacrificially and demonstrated a way that wins the world.
In the midst of COVID-19, we are reminded again of the beastly powers agenda to conquer and dominate the world. Whether you believe COVID was manufactured or naturally occurring, we can all agree that COVID is an evil in the world that is wreaking havoc, adding hurt and compiling brokenness to our already broken world.
I am thankful to be leading a church that is responding correctly. We are leading a movement in our community that is rooted in sacrificial love and faithfulness. We are acting as one in the strength of the Lamb.
In response to COVID-19 in our community, our church began to give. As of right now, more than five thousand dollars has been donated within these past six weeks. With those funds we have been able to purchase food items and gift cards to bless and support those who have been economically impacted by the evils of COVID-19. Further to this, we have recently designated more space in our church building so that the Lindsay Community Food Market (LCFM) operations can expand. The LCFM is a community operated food bank that serves over 350 guests monthly. All in all, our church is committed to respond and demonstrate a unified strength that exemplifies the nature of the One we serve. He is a God of love after all.
I believe that this is an exciting time to be a follower of the Lamb. Now more than ever followers of Jesus need to remain faithful to His way of being human. Christianity is a living thing and is to be a force in the world which works to demonstrate the fabric of God’s Kingdom here on earth. The people of the Lamb are to be a unified movement demonstrating the essence of God’s strength. Jesus alone is worthy to receive strength because He is the only One who demonstrated God’s merciful compassion, loving faithfulness, and sacrificial love here on earth. He truly is a Wonderful Lord. He is the original strong movement. May we follow in His ways: #Lambstrong
1. Dubois, Lou (April 21, 2013). “‘Boston Strong’ emerges as rallying cry, from stadiums to tweets”. NBC News.
2. Gorman, Michael J. Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb into the New Creation