Thursday, October 05, 2006

embracing grace 5: the epic of the Eikon

To understand the End is to know where everything is headed toward, either in harmony or in dissonance. In this chapter, Scot points to the End, as it arrives in the Revelation to John, as indicating to us where everything is headed, including ourselves. It is all about union with God and communion with people. To be in Christ, in the kingdom of God, and to have eternal life, is to be coming to know God, more and more. And moving closer to God (as on spokes, from the "rim" of the wheel to the hub) means moving closer to each other. It is one big community, one big city in the end, the New Jerusalem. And a big dance and shebang participating in the very perichoresis or interacting, unifying movement and dance of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

If we know how the Story of life ends, THE Story, then we know what end our lives ought to be moving towards. It is certainly in keeping with "the Jesus Creed": to love God with all our being and doing, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

"Getting there" isn't all together "half the fun" in this. It involves a battle, as we see in Revelation. A battle the Lamb wins over the beast and his cohorts. Human rule and power exacts a heavy toll on humankind and the planet; the dragon makes war on the Lamb and his people. God intervenes in judgment. And finally puts an end to what is contrary to the true End of all things.

This is about destiny. And the epic of the Eikon, humankind, is indeed a destiny of participation in the greatness of all God is. A participation in God, and with each other. Not to be confused with a monastery filled with individual cells or some pole in a desert. But more like a crowded church camp, as Scot says.

As we come more and more into this Light together, we become more and more the true humans God made us to be. Each one unique, but together in Christ.

So this is what life is all about in the Here and Now. It is not about simply awaiting "the sweet by and by". We are in Jesus an eschatological people, now. We live as those who are moving towards this vision, given to us by God.

Dante in his Divine Comedy--the Inferno, along with John Bunyan, in his Pilgrim's Progress, each wrote about this. Again, what we "in Christ" are now, is in continuity with, and moving towards what we shall become. This helps us "see" what we're to become someday, and casts all other visions into the night, where they belong.

How does knowing the End of the Story impact how you think and live? What impact does the book of Revelation have on your life? What more impact could all this have on our lives?


Ted Gossard said...

I just added the questions to this post. I'm afraid I didn't do justice to this chapter of the book. And while I don't want to deviate from it, I do share in the sense of an impressionistic portrayal of the chapter. So that some of Scot's thoughts might be altered by my own here. Though, again, that's not my goal.

I really did have a harder time with this chapter. Maybe because, although I agree with the theology of us being in the Now an eschatological people, already beginning to live in the New Day which has its climax in Christ's return- it evidently is not "second nature" to me, very much, yet. Revelation and thinking on the End has taken a beating in popular theology and books, and too often we have been in danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, in reaction to that, I'm afraid.

L.L. Barkat said...

I find it interesting that Revelation often makes people respond with passivity... the "it's all gonna burn anyway syndrome"... yet, for me, it has the opposite effect... there is so much caution there, heavy responsibility, even while there is the eventual hope of renewal.

Ted Gossard said...


Interesting observation. I think Revelation is an engigma to many. Or it comes across in terms that speak of some future "left behind" scenario, that hardly evokes anything but a kind of passivity in waiting and trying to connect present day events to last day prophecy.

So much better to see it, and read it as you're suggesting here. And while I have a renewed appreciation of Revelation, I have plenty of room to grow in what you're speaking of here. Thanks.