“John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come . . . to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen.” – Revelation 1: 4-8
We might think that after the glorious celebrations of the Resurrection, it would be counter-productive to recall and recount the stark realities of the crucifixion. And perhaps the last place one would look to be reminded of the cruel calamities of the cross would be in the superlative visions of Christ glorified and the Church Triumphant, as recorded in John’s Revelation. Yet, even as John reveals to us the Christ who is utterly victorious over death, hell and the grave, John will not allow us to deny the truth of Jesus’ death nor to escape our responsibility for Jesus’ suffering. John insists that even as we look upon the ultimate, eternal triumph of God’s only begotten Son, we do not neglect or erase our contributions to his death:
“Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen.”
Even in the celebration of our victories, there must be a sobering accountability for our ethical behavior. This is the reason why the injustices of the past are never really behind us. Genocide… slavery… imperialism… apartheid… the Holocaust… ruthless nationalism… institutionalized sexism and hetero-sexism… these injustices cannot and should never be erased from human consciousness. How could we ever live into the new realm of Christ if we forgot the injustices that necessitated our new beginning? Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.
Dear Lord, we are grateful for all the sins and mistakes of our past that you have allowed us to overcome. Now please help us to not dismiss the dark places we’ve been so that we will know where we must never go again. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.