The cool kids never got it — the fascination uncool kids have with graphic novels. We called them comic books back in the day. Their plot rarely varied. A terrible accident exposes the ninety-pound weakling to some toxic power. He escapes death, but is mysteriously mutated. The power that should have killed him, becomes part of him. As he learns when and how to use it, he brings justice to the unjust, care for the uncared for, and protection to the unprotected. What should have killed him made him stronger. And the zero becomes the superhero.
Every bullied kid wants to believe this can happen. We all want to be the victor, not the victim. To find some secret power to be an overcomer. Especially when the deck seems stacked against us. Abuse from those who despise us, disappointment with those who love us, and discontentment with ourselves all threaten to crush us beneath a load too heavy to shrug off. If only we had a superhero power. Then maybe we could stand against the weight of this fallen world. But as it is, who can stand?
Revelation 6 is a disquieting read. As the Worthy One comes forward to open the book of ‘God’s Wonderful Plan for the World,’ the world and everything in it is coming apart at the seams. The Lamb’s Book of Comfort is anything but comforting. Conquest, wanton bloodshed, famine and social injustice, death, intolerance and persecution, and cosmic disintegration are all on the docket. The worlds groans under the weight of the Fall.
Kings and great ones, generals and the rich and powerful, for all they possess, offer nothing but despair. Once victors, they are now victims. In a dramatic scene, men flee from the wrath of the Lamb. They would rather be crushed in caves than face God’s justice. In hopelessness they cry out, “who can stand?” For all their power they are powerless. The weight of a fallen world is unbearable. Who can stand?
Though uttered in despair, this question is not without an answer. The narrative of God’s unfolding judgement is paused by a remarkable picture of God’s grace. Revelation 7 offers an interlude in the unfolding apocalypse. And gives us a complementary vision of grace. In wrath the Lord remembers mercy. “Who can stand?” Those who have the seal of the Living God, they will stand. They stand victoriously in this world as the ‘Church Militant’ and in eternity before God’s throne as the ‘Church Triumphant.’
Like characters in graphic novels, we too are marginalized by our sin. Victims of Adam’s Fall and our own fallenness, we are dead in sins and transgressions. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)
By no power of our own, God graciously places in us a power greater than that in the world. He makes victors out of victims. He seals us with His Name and the Name of the Lamb, the name that is above every other name, the name that causes every knee to bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Who can stand against those who are sealed with the Name of our God and of the Lamb? No matter how the world tries to break those who belong to Jesus, they are unbreakable. “God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: The Lord knows those who are his.” (2 Timothy 2:19)
Are you broken? Does your world seem to be coming apart at the seams? Have you thought, “can I stand?” Those who belong to the Lamb will stand, now and forever. Simply come to Jesus in faith and repentance. You are invited. He said, “come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) and “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37) Join us this week as we examine Revelation 7 and see how Jesus transforms the broken into the unbreakable.
We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm, outside on The Pavilion at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube. For the Order of Service, click here.
Photo by Yogi Ramadhan on Unsplash