The older I become the more aware I am of the necessity of having my own revelation of God. Not what has been provided by an institution, though it would be foolish not to consider the composite of man’s best wisdom; the benefit of such institutions as the church.
However, a part of that wisdom has been the profession of personal privilege and relationship through Christ, the intercession provided to assure direct access to God. In fact, scripture invites us to “come boldly into the throne room of God”, through the grace of this better High Priest. See Hebrews 4:17.
As I read the scriptures this morning, peering once more into The Revelation of John, I came upon Chapter 1:9 and wondered if I truly understood the words offered by John: “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus,….” NIV
There in front of me were possibly three clear and distinct components of the Christian journey: suffering, kingdom and patient endurance. Were these three offered as some minimal declaration of what one might anticipate on this journey with Christ? Is my lot in life simply to share in His sufferings, bringing His Kingdom to this earth through the patience and stamina afforded by His righteousness? I think so!
If so, I think we as Americans have erred, in that we have made Christianity about physical health (though we struggle over equity in health care), and success in the “here and now”. We may have created our own version of “righteousness, peace and joy” through a prosperity gospel founded in capitalism yet now approaching socialism, both alone void of true Christ likeness.
“For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink (celebration) but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17 KJV. Was I (John) having my own moment of revelation, a “spiritual Aha” as I read? Have we mistaken the privilege and pleasures of capitalism for participation in the Kingdom of God, when The Revelation plainly communicates suffering, kingdom (much different than our understanding) and patient endurance as our lot? The fact that the word “kingdom” sits bounded by both suffering and endurance speaks volumes about what true kingdom living might look like.
Birthing in the natural, at least from what my wife has expressed, is no bed of roses! Could the bringing of His Kingdom to this earth, the birthing of a new reality for this fallen globe be painless and promise only happiness and bounty for the believer? Or, do the words “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” intend to communicate some deeper walk than mere ecstasy of emotion, where everything works in the life of the believer in this present world? I think so, for the Lord himself said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I (Christ) have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Tribulation and good cheer? That no longer preaches in America!
Given the sufferings of saints passed, much at the hands of the institutional church, I must learn to seek and to trust my own revelation through a personal relationship with God in Christ and communion with the saints of today, not necessarily those in our pulpits.
What we have believed and crafted in the contemporary doctrines of today, may not endure the culture of today’s world nor tomorrow’s America.