Today was the last in a sermon series called “It’s In Revelations, People!”, an attempt to make sense of a downright hallucinatory book of the Bible.
Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. … I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star. The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.
I’m not sure there’s much sense to be made of the Book of Revelation. I value it as a text that obstinately resists logic and forces intellectuals like me to remember that much madness is divinest sense.
I emphatically do not mean that God has a God-logic that transcends ours, and that we should abandon logic in favor of perfect trust in God. As a spiritual mentor pointed out, “If the Creator created us, then obviously he/she/it, whatever, is responsible for the fact that we have a three pound universe trapped in our skulls… If we created God, then we did so for a focus of our hopes, our fears, our dreams, our awe of the universe, all that stuff that made primitive man look up at night, and say ‘Whoa, why are there stars?’ One way or the other, God and our intelligence are inexplicably linked.”
But I think we unintentionally paint God into a corner when we ascribe omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence to God, and then wonder why there’s evil in the world. It’s a pretty paradox, but not a problem that urgently needs to be solved. In fact, I’m not sure I see a need for any God at all in a universe that makes perfect sense. Fortunately, I don’t think this universe happens to answer to that description. I can think of about a hundred things right now that suck for no good reason: lupus, malaria, mistaken or deliberate imprisonment, desperate poverty… none of these things, I assert, is part of a divine plan that will all make sense after Jesus Christ comes down to rip the mask off the monster and reveal Satan saying “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!”. It doesn’t make sense that I cut people off in traffic and never get a ticket for it. Life is not fair. It doesn’t make sense.
What does make sense to me in this passage is the word “anyone”. Without limitations, anyone is welcome to join in the work of making the world a better place, one dusty little corner at a time. Anyone is welcome to come listen to a sermon and sing along with hymns, if that’s your thing. Anyone is welcome to join the freewheeling debates in small-group sessions.
Even if you’re not a Presbyterian.
Even if you’re not a Christian.
Even if you’re not theist in any sense.
You might feel more comfortable working with people whose attitudes toward religion more closely match your own — but you are entirely welcome to work for a better world alongside us. After all, there’s too much work to be done. We can’t afford to ignore a sincere offer of help from anyone.