Worm theology

I am working through the new devotional called “Live Dead Joy” by missionary Dick Brogden. “Live Dead” is a missions effort to put missions teams in the hardest, most unreached parts of the world. It is a radical call to missions and as such, Dick Brogden is a very driven man. I admire him greatly.

I enjoy the Live Dead devotional because it is NOT soft pedaling anything. It’s not your “warm thought for the day” kind of devotional. It is a call to live under the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.

But today I have a bone to pick with his thought process.

Today’s devotional starts with this sentence:

“Revelation wreaks havoc on any theology that has a high view of people.”

A few lines later:

“There is no man-centered triumphalism in the last days — there is only disaster.”

Revelation does point out what happens when humanity puts themselves at the center. We witness this all over the world all the time.

But to say there is no place for a “high view of people” ignores… well.. the Bible. We too often have a “worm theology.” I draw this from the song “At the Cross” where the line says “Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?”

I grew up with that theology.

It’s not about being “man centered.” What is needed is a theology of God that is so great that we understand GOD has a high view of humanity. Without God, we’re foolish. Yes. But WITH God, what is constantly put in front of us biblically is the thought: ALL IS OURS.

Without God, we end up in disaster. Revelation portrays that. Yet, WITH God, we have the opportunity to understand what it is to walk in the image of Christ.

Here are a couple of reminders we need from Scripture:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor. 1:4-9)

We need to be reminded from time to time that GOD has a high view of us.

1. Don’t think you do it all on your own. That’s disastrous.

2. Don’t think you’re an unworthy worm. That’s disastrous as well.

3. In Christ, ALL IS OURS. That is victorious.

The church is a mess

“The churches of Revelation show us that churches are not Victorian parlors where everything is always picked up and ready for guests. They are messy family rooms. Entering a person’s house unexpectedly, we are sometimes met with a barrage of apologies. St. John does not apologize. Things are out of order, to be sure, but that is what happens to churches that are lived in.” — Eugene Peterson, Reverse Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination.

The IMMENSE power of the Scripture

The Revelation, extending St. John’s experience (“I fell at his feet”) puts a stop to all bookish approaches to the scriptures that merely study them out of pious duty or for intellectual curiosity. The scriptures are not a textbook on God; they are access to the living word of God that speaks a new world into being in us. — Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder 

We need to experience the Word. The intent of scripture, especially a word like Revelation, is to put us on our knees in worship. We’re so busy predicting the anti-Christ and talking about the alignment of moons, we miss the radical call to worship. 

We are always trying to make the Scripture be useful to us… to contort into our purposes. Here is the truth: the Scripture uses us. We are not meant to be “students” but worshipers. Awed worshipers. 

What happens when we pray?

What do we EXPECT to happen?

One of my favorite prayer heroes was always in a spiritual fight. The Lord invited him to pray and stuff happened. The Lord would ask him to pray for places he had never heard of, so he would fast and pray until breakthrough came, often resulting in spiritual warfare that would sometimes feel like a physical fight.

But when he prayed, stuff happened. Nations could be changed. And I’m not kidding.

Too often… way too often… when I pray I’m just hoping to stay awake.

I need to keep Rev. 8:3-5 in mind when I pray.

The intercession of God’s people is meant to move God to actually act.

He waits to act. And when he acts, Revelation reminds us… watch out.

What happens when we pray?

 

When This World Fails

Revelation 18 is an interesting picture. Babylon… the world’s system… that which so many have put their hope in for so long… has fallen. It has been exposed for the corruption at its core. It has been exposed as inadequate, to say the least. The Kingdom of God is revealed as what is lasting and powerful.

Yet, so many weep over the collapse of Babylon. For many, it’s the end of their economic income stream. Money had been their god, and that god was gone. Kings would weep because Babylon had delivered to them a false sense of power. Power was their god and that god was now dead.

The clear warning give to the people of God was to come out of Babylon. Do NOT share in her sins.

It is a call to allegiance. The call of God to people everywhere and in every time has been a call of allegiance. The call of Babylon has been the same. Those powerful draws we feel in our soul are calls to allegiance. Which call will we answer?

As believers in this world, those allegiances still call out to us. The Kingdom of God calls out, as do the kingdoms of this world. Believers have the ability to respond to those calls. Where will we land our ultimate allegiance?

Silence in Heaven and the Prayers of the Saints

Revelation 8 gives a break in the first few verses. John’s visions have been utter chaos. The first six seals have unleashed visions of terror. War, famine, economic collapse, natural disasters… and he didn’t even have CNN at the time!

Then, he is whisked into a vision of heaven and the incredible worship in Revelation 7.

But then… silence.

The seventh seal is broken and silence reigns in heaven for half an hour. Thirty minutes of silence. We can’t stand 30 seconds of silence.

It is the quiet before the next storm.

We then get a picture of intercession and prayer that is astounding. The prayers of the saints are brought before the Lord as incense. When the prayers have accumulated, God responds. And he responds powerfully. 

“Then the angel took the incense container and filled it with fire from the altar. He threw it down to the earth, and there were thunder, voices, lightning, and an earthquake.” (Rev. 8:5, CEB)

I’m just wondering: What happens when I pray? 

The prayers of the saints should move heaven.

Why Does the Church Suffer?

We don’t suffer in America, or the Western world. Yet, the Church suffers. Revelation is vital to the suffering Church. This is a letter we need to read and understand. It’s not about escape from suffering. It is the understanding of why the Church goes through hard times. It is understanding the presence of Christ in that suffering.

Why does the Church suffer?

13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring —those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. (Rev. 12:13-17, NIV)

We are the Church at war. You can’t claim pacifism on this one. There is an enemy locked and loaded.

Rebellion

A scenario that occurs quite regularly throughout Revelation is a picture of rebellion. There are people so against God they don’t want to face him at all. When the world is literally falling all around them, they call out for the boulders to crush them rather than face God.

Even when God is revealing himself full force and the open rebellion of humanity is crashing down all around, there is no repentance. It is the picture of full out rebellion. It is the picture of what has gone wrong at the core of the Fall: we just want to be our own gods.

The only problem with that scenario is that there is only one God, and his glory will not be shared by another.

Revelation is a sober read.

The Door Standing Open in Heaven

Once the visions really start pounding away at John in Revelation, one key thing to look for is the consistent view into heaven.

This is where all the craziness begins. Before the Lord shows John the visions, he shows him what is going on in heaven. It is WORSHIP. It is putting all the attention on the Lamb. It is knowing there is One… and only One who is worthy.

“John, remember this. See this now, because this is what is going on right now in my presence. All the other crazy stuff is prelude. THIS is the ultimate picture.”

There will be key times throughout the book that John will be taken into that presence once again. The reminders are always there. There is ONE who sits on the throne. There is ONE who is worthy. No matter the chaos on this earth… in the tragedy… in the foolishness… there is a greater reality. It is in the worship of ONE.

There is a door standing open. Find that door in worship.