Through most of my adult life I have essentially withdrawn from the formal political process. This has been the result, I think, mainly of my inability to understand political process and my theological hesitancy in viewing government as the means to what God is doing in the world. It seems I have been able to do little correcting the former and I have tried not to take a militant position on the latter as I have encountered many for whom political process has made constructive contributions.
In Revelation 5 we hear about the new song sung by the four living creatures and the 24 elders. They praise the lamb who was slain whose blood purchased people for God. These people come from every tribe, language, ethnicity, and nation. They are made a priestly kingdom and will rule the earth. Revelation of course is shot through with the conflict around the earth’s rule. Spending more time in this text I have begun to reflect again what it might mean or look like for the ‘lamb’s people’ to rule.
What came to me was really quite a simple and unoriginal contrast. Traditional government is always willing to put others at risk. Soldiers are themselves at risk and they put foreigners at risk. Police themselves are at risk and they put other citizens at risk. Who are these risked lives trying to secure. I think they are trying to secure a type of non-life or static life. This structure of government secures those who are passive as well as those who are able to risk others. There is a brave refrain among the families of those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan believing in the greater good of what is being fought for. But their lives are not secured. Their lives are shattered, at times it appears irredeemably broken. So they say it is for their children but this fighting poses no guarantee of that belief. And so the ones secured are only in the present, only those who do not need to fight and probably do not really care about it. Those secured are the stabilizing block, masse, that government needs for support and credence.
So what of the ‘lamb’s people?’ They themselves rule by placing their lives in temporal risk for eternal security. When they witness risked people they engage themselves directly for the securing of others. Their authority then is acknowledged through their sacrifice . . . worthy is the lamb. Kierkegaard’s notion of the eternal is significant here as it functions in the rupturing of every moment which humanly tends towards the temporal and the securing of the self at the cost of others. Here there can be no allegiance to tribe, language, culture, or nation for all are represented in the call of the lamb.
It should also be noted that this is not a mindless risking on the part of the faithful it is rather a willing risk in light of and in discerning response to the ills and risks manifest around them. This is where critical discussion and charitable response can join.