What I'm Reading Today: Revelation 18-19
I had an "Ah ha!" moment today as I was reading some of the final chapters of the Book of Revelation. That "Ah ha!" moment had to do with why I've never connected much with the book. Let me give you a little background to set up that "Ah ha!" moment.
Some of my blog readers might remember from earlier entries that the way I arrive at my daily reading schedule is that I'm using Eugene Peterson's The Message/Remix: Pause. That edition of The Message has a daily reading schedule that includes a reading from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and a reading from the Greek Scriptures (New Testament). I've spent this year focusing on the Greek Scriptures, and in two days I'll transition into focusing on the Hebrews Scriptures.
At the end of each reading, Peterson raises a few questions to help the reader process the information that was just read. At the of Revelation 18, Peterson wrote: "How does the reassurance that God will pay back everyone who has caused his people to suffer change the way you see injustice around you now?"
As I finished reading the question, I immediately thought to myself: "It doesn't change the way I see injustice around me one iota."
Why is that, you might wonder? Why doesn't Revelation's imagery of terror and destruction scare the heebee jeebees out of me and make me want to promise never to do anything bad again?
I suppose that's because my relationship with/connection to God isn't predicated on a reward and punishment system. When I engage in an act of service, for instance, I don't think, "Boy, I'm doing something really good. This will get me into heaven for sure." Nor when I'm doing something that causes me to "miss the mark" (i.e. sin), I don't think: "Uh oh, I better stop this right now or I'll burn in hell."
Instead, I orient my life and my decisions around whether or not my thoughts and actions are bringing closer in relationship/connection with God. The closeness I feel in relation/connection to God when I make healthy decision is – at least for me – "reward" enough. The distance I feel in relation/connection from God when I make unhealthy decision is "punishment" enough. That – I suppose – is why I don't relate to much of the traditional reward/punishment imagery used in Revelation.
So how about you? What are the motivations that drive your decision making processes in life? Are you motivated to do "good" things by the promise of lavish rewards and avoid "bad" things by the fear of torturous consequences; or are their other things that motivate you to lead the life you do?
Til next time …