The People of God, a Living Testimony

I continue to work through Michael J. Gorman‘s Reading Revelation Respsonsibly, and I continue to use it as a springboard into tangential thoughts.

In chapter 7, Gorman highlights the main characters of the Revelation drama.  His discussion of the Almighty and the Christ are brief, having spent ample space on them in chapter 6.  His focus, then, is on the Holy Spirit, Satan and his minions, and the people of God.  It’s the people of God that got me all “Rev’d” up.

Citing Rev 2:10; 17:14, Gorman writes:

The most significant characteristic of the church as the people of God in Revelation is its calling to be a faithful witness. … It is rooted in Jesus the faithful witness (1:5; 3:14; 19:11), and it is exemplified in John the faithful witness now on Patmos (1:9), the martyred Antipas of Pergamum (2:13), and all the faithful witnesses/martyrs now in heaven (6:9-11; 7:13-17; 12:11; 17:6).  (131)

What might it have meant, I wondered, for someone to be a “faithful witness”?

Thankfully, Gorman continues:

The task of a witness is to speak courageously in word and deed, testifying to the truth of God and prophesying against all falsehood that distorts and parodies divine truth.  Witnesses offer testimony to the vision of God given them in the hope that others will repent from error and turn to the truth. … This suggests that the church should be missional and prophetic, a martyrological community, a gathering of witnesses.  (132)

I like the idea of witnessing “in word and deed.”  It is an idea that I believe the church broadly ought to spend more time with, that our witness is about far more than just preaching about truth, but performing truth.  As Gorman had said, this is grounded in Jesus, who both spoke of the reality of the Father, but more powerfully acted out the Father’s will, to restore all of creation.  The success of the people of God, Gorman also writes, is measured by the degree to which they operate according to God’s will, in His name, as it were (132).

This sent me back to thoughts on the mission of the people of God throughout the scriptural narrative.  Was this not Adam’s commission, to reflect the Creator’s image on the earth?  Was it not Abraham’s covenant to bless the world, just as God had blessed him?  Was not Israel meant to reveal before the pagan world just how this Yahweh acted?  Was it not Jesus’ agenda to do as the Father did and speak as the Father spoke?

What, then, ought we to expect of our own mission today, if we consider ourselves people of God?


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