So, Revelation 15-16 means I can sing now instead of seeking revenge. How do I do this? Here are a few suggestions I hope you will find helpful.
Some Biblical reflection
- Reflect on those Bible passages that show how seriously God takes sin and evil. In the book of Revelation, we see the seriousness he takes as he judges wickedness. However, Bible passages like Romans 3 also point to how seriously God treats Son as they point to the cost of Calvary
- Speak honestly to God about how you feel. This is not about raging against God or allowing your anger to spin out of control. Rather it is about recognising evil, being open about your pain, pleading for justice. A number of the Psalms are what we call imprecatory Psalms and they express this desire for God’s justice. Whilst these have specific and immediate application to Israel and David’s enemies they help us to understand something of what this sense of justice means
- Psalm 37 and 73 are brilliant at reminding us that although we at times may look around and see the wicked prospering, their apparent success is temporary.
- Reflect on the Gospel, remember that God has rescued me and you from the depths of sin and rebellion and called us into his family. Ephesians 2 is brilliant.
- Go to those Bible passages that point to Future Grace and remind us of the hope we have, Romans 5, Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 15, Revelation 21-22
Some practicalities for individuals
- Pray before you head into a potentially confrontational situation
- Don’t respond immediately when people rile you. Take time, count, walk away, breathe. You may even find it helpful to write down how you would like to respond before you choose how you will respond
- Get one or two good and godly friends. These are people you can talk honestly to about what you’re going through or what you have been through. You will be able to trust them to be patient and to exercise confidentiality. At the same time, they will not be people who just accept and endorse what you are feeling and saying/how you are reacting. Good and godly friends will even be ready to challenge you lovingly, patiently and gently. They will draw you back to the Gospel. They will bring God’s truth to bear when we cannot see it so clearly. They will pray for you.
Some pointers for churches
- We need to make our church gatherings places of patience where we allow hurting people the space to heal and to learn to hope.
- We need to make our church gatherings places of protection where those who are vulnerable and/or have experienced abuse, neglect, opposition know that they are safe. Are your Safeguarding policies up to date and do they reflect your context?
- We need to think about the language we use and the application we make. For example, I want to talk about God as our loving Father. He is. I must not ever drop that language but how do I do that when someone has been neglected or harmed by the person they were meant to call dad? Well first of all, I think by openly recognising that some have had really horrendous experiences of parents. We must not talk naively and assume that dads are always loving and just doing their best. Secondly, we must offer them the hope and security of a very different Father. This is what a Father is meant to be like. Thirdly we must learn how to offer healthy, gospel centred models of family that draw in and include those who have been harmed or neglected.
- We need to learn that relevant Bible preaching is about tone as well as content. I have heard people preach truth but in a way that was deeply insensitive to hurting people because the tone was too harsh.
- We need to be preaching the whole counsel of God not just our favourite bits.