Is anyone getting tired of hearing about the continuous and ongoing corruption across levels of government or the seemingly lack of a moral compass from those in leadership?
Does there also seem to be a continual covering-up and blatant denial of organizational abuse of power and the errors of systematic oppression?
Why is there an addictive need to control, dominate and oppress people?
Surely there must be another way …
In my previous blog I began to share from War Ewing’s The Power of the Lamb: Revelation’s Theology of Liberation for You. To read that blog click here.
In this week’s blog I will share what is needed so that humanity is able to not only confront these ‘beastly’ oppressive powers in the world, but what is also needed if there is to be any hope for unity and healing. Ward calls it ‘Lambpower’.
In the book of Revelation, John gives the world a startling picture of what is needed so that transformation and healing is able to come to the world and all human relationships. But here’s a warning, the imagery and solution might not be what you would expect or want to see. But it should be a familiar image if you are somewhat familiar with the nursery rhyme involving a little girl named Mary.
In the languages of the ancient Mediterranean world, there were many words for sheep and lambs that were used in common Greek and Hebrew. John could have used any number of them in the book of Revelation. However, when it came to describing the Lamb of God throughout Revelation, John uses a very special world that is shocking.
In the fifth chapter of Revelation John says this:
“Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw One like a slaughtered lamb standing between the throne …
Did you catch that?
The Lion of the tribe of Judah, which was to destroy the enemy, turns out to be a little, young lamb. Remember what is was that followed Mary to school that day? Yes, that’s right. It was a little lamb.
Now, it’s one thing to say that a lion has now become a lamb, but John also says that this lamb also bears the marks of being slaughtered or slain. So, in the vision given to John (while being in the Spirit), John sees, describes and emphasizes that God’s power and victory is achieved via a meek, helpless and vulnerable little lamb.
For Ward, ‘John has carefully chosen an image that conveys unprotected and perilous existence’. In other words, it seems that God’s understanding of true victory and power looks like vulnerability and surrender.
Now, for the ancient followers of Jesus and congregations of Asia Minor, the parallels were seemingly obvious. We need to remember that it was John who told them about Jesus’ non-violent surrendering to the Jewish leaders and Pilate in his gospel. John who witnessed and wrote about Jesus’ vulnerability and strength when He accepted the undeserved suffering and injustice heaped upon Him that lead up to His death on the cross. We also need to remember that it was John who told us that there is no greater love than to suffer and give one’s life for others.
So now, the same John says that the same love of God is operating and needed in the world now.
Stop and think about that impact of John’s message in a world of Roman domination and power. What is able to stop this evil power of the beast? What will ultimately destroy and do away with these oppressive and violent powers?
Ward says that the messaging in Revelation indicates that the love of God as witnessed and demonstrated in Jesus is the very love that will win the world.
In his words, ‘the beast was unable to destroy or stop that love, and it was that love which triumphed. The cross remains to this day as the symbol of the supreme act of love, consciously and willingly accepted by an innocent man. No act of love this deep, this strong, this pure, this giving, can ever be seen as defeat. The ruler was more controlled than controlling; the power was revealed as malevolent and impotent. The Lamb faced the beast and conquered. The victim is the victor.’
So let me ask you this question: how does this concept of power clash with our culturally conditioned one?
Think about all of the ‘people power’ marches and demonstrations that we have seen here in the West over the past few decades. What seems to be the ethos and messaging from the leaders of those movements, and the very movement itself? Think about the recent ‘freedom convoy’ in our Nations Capital.
For Ward, it seems that Lambpower is characterized by love, acceptance and supporting other people’s freedom and giving without demanding results. It seems that Lambpower is more about vulnerability and surrender than non-violence and protest; and more about acceptance and yieldedness than about resignation and passivity. In other words, true power ought to align itself with the very life and way of Jesus the Nazarene.
Today, we need to think about the ramifications of what John is saying. What would happen if we began to think this way and apply the way of the Lamb in our everyday relationships, marriages and parenting?
What would happen if we decided to let go of our need to compete and need to climb the corporate ladder? What would happen if we realized that our personal worth does not depend on winning? What would happen if we left behind our need for control and selfish desire to always be in charge and have the final say?
Ward believes that this is exactly what humanity and the world needs. This is the kind of self-giving and vulnerable love needed to bring God’s healing and unity to our broken and fragmented world. This is the kind of love that brings God’s newness and freedom to our hurting and wounded spirit. In other words, we all need to embrace and receive the life changing love of God in Jesus.
This is the message, mission and model of God’s victorious Lamb, Jesus Christ.
So in our current apocalyptic age and present day world, John continues to give each of us a choice: the way of the beast or the way of the Lamb.
I pray that we will choose the way of Jesus and either begin to follow or continue to follow this ‘little’ Lamb wherever He may lead.