Then I saw a large white throne and the one who was seated on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. Then books were opened, and another book was opened – the book of life. So the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds.
Without a doubt, one of my favorite chapters in all of scripture is Revelation 21. The vision of a restored heavens and earth, creation put back to shalom is something I look forward to constantly.
But alas, chapter 20 fell to me, and I’m glad it did, it was a good challenge for me.
I was talking to a friend today about a situation we are both trying to navigate and I realized that I have a pretty big fixation on justice. I think that all people do, but for some reason I’ve always felt especially passionate about issues of injustice. I appreciate that now, but I didn’t appreciate it as much the time I started crying during a speech against abortion in 7th grade.
Anyhow, I can tend to get kind of fired up about injustice, but oftentimes I gauge injustice by my own standards, not necessarily God’s standards. Honestly there are just times that I don’t understand God’s standards, most of the time I do, but there are times when it’s a little tougher.
In chapter 20 there is a clear separation, it seems in the end the thing that matters is whose name is written in the Lamb’s book of life, and whose isn’t. Which is where I have trouble.
I often want chapter 21 without chapter 20, but it isn’t possible.
The brokenness and evil in the world has to be dealt with. In order for shalom, justice, and peace to be restored to God’s original and final hope for creation, the evil must be removed. In order for healing, the pain must be dealt with. It’s not something that people like to talk about, it makes me uncomfortable even now. My hope is that not a single human soul would be left out of the book of life. A hope that I echo from 1 Timothy 2:3-4
“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Ultimately I trust God as he pursues all people with his endless grace and love, but the hope that all people might eventually declare Jesus as Lord requires that I live in a way that Jesus is actually real, is actually Good news, and is desperate to reconcile relationships with all people.
Even the ones that I have the hardest time loving.
My prayer for this next year is that the walls I’ve built up against people would be broken down, that Jesus love might be shared through my love for them. Tangible love backed up with action is what drew me to Jesus, now it’s time to share that with others.
From the archives. Originally published December 29, 2014.