The Revelation of John is without doubt the most mysterious book in the New Testament.
And that’s not really saying much, because while the Gospels and the Letters of Paul talk about mysterious things – their presentation itself is generally not that mysterious.
But not so with Revelation. You may know that Revelation was written by John, who at the time was imprisoned on a small island.
John, an apostle, a prophet, a mystic – and a persecuted prisoner for the Gospel – tells us that “an Angel of God came to him, Opened a Door into the Kingdom of Heaven, Showed Him the Other Side of Life, and, basically, blew his mind.”
Reading his book even today — you and I are gifted by John’s visionary experience of God’s truth, but yet we are also challenged and most likely confused.
Confused about the exact nature of God’s truth – because most of us do not have Angels as our tutors and teachers. All we’ve got are saints – and they are an imperfect lot. Just look around you.
We are an imperfect lot, and so it’s a very good thing that you and I are not expected or required to rule the Universe. Luckily for the world’s sake you and I are not God.
But believe it or not – there are always going to be people who want to believe that they are God. And if not God, then at least God’s Favorites.
It has been argued that the Sniper Suspects were just such people.
A theory has it that these two sick persons were in a group called the Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths.
The Five Percenters are a thirty year old offshoot of the Nation of Islam.
While the Nation of Islam has always taught the racial supremacy of black people, in the mid-1960’s, one member of the Black Muslims, Clarence 13X, took racial supremacy to the next level.
Pudding no longer accepted that God – or Allah – was an invisible and transcendent being.
Instead, Pudding came to believe that he was God. He called himself Allah, and taught that the Five Percent of Black Men who become self-aware like him, would share in his divinity.
Now, it’s only hard to know the difference between right and wrong when you’re not God.
But, believing themselves to be divine creatures, Five Percenters have no problem deciding who deserves to live and who deserves to die.
Now, you these teachings are unmitigated perversions of the Biblical faith that you and I hold – and indeed they are also considered an abomination by orthodox Muslims.
But believe it or not – as freaky as they may sound to us – religious lies like these have existed among every people, in every nation, and in every language. And they continue to tempt even the followers of Jesus.
The first lie is the idea that God can be Defined and Truth Categorized by human beings. This lie is called idolatry.
The second lie is the idea that human beings can exist in the place of God. This lie is called Original Sin.
These lies are the dark foundations of selfishness, hatred and war.
People who believe that some are folks are “superior” while others are “inferior” are mistaken.
Prophets who say you must destroy your enemy by violence are false.
The good news is that Jesus never said any of these things.
Jesus never gave permission to kill anyone, or abuse anyone, or even to deny their common human dignity. He forbade us to judge, lest we be judged, and he said again and again, “Love your enemies,” for God is merciful to the Ungrateful and the Prideful.”
For despite all the violence in our own Old Testament, the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not allow us to hate.
That said, so many Christians today are obsessed with who will be saved and who won’t. Many Christians look at the number of the anointed – the 144,000 – and wonder who those people are.
But the way I see it, only a False Saint focuses on the supposedly limited amount of room there is in the Kingdom of God. Only a False Saint says, “I’m one of the 144,000 and you are not. Or, “I’m one of the Five Percent, and you are not.”
Only a False Saint teaches that the Kingdom of God is small.
The True Saint of God – who conforms himself to the Mind of Jesus Christ – does not focus on that first fairly small number – that 144,000. No, the True Saint says, look at the next number – it says there are too many to count. And they’re coming from all nations and language and tribes.
The True Saint says God can choose all that he wants to – and by the power of Jesus Christ – all can choose to be saved.
The True Saint says the Kingdom of Heaven is a big place. And we can take our place in it right here and right now with one another as our brothers and sisters.
And because it is big, and because it is open, you and I don’t need to fight for a place. And because I don’t need to fight for a place, I don’t need be jealous of anyone. And because I don’t need to be jealous, I don’t need to fear anyone. And because I don’t need to be fearful, I don’t need to hate anyone. And because I don’t need to hate anyone, I don’t need to harm anyone in the name of God.
Now I may be wrong – but I trust in the teaching and in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
And because I trust in that – I’m taking a chance that God is big – that God’s Mercy is stronger than Man’s Sin – and that I should love my enemy — not hate him.
You see Right and Wrong do exist. But we will never be able to see the difference when we allow hate into my heart. Amen.