When the thousand years [of Christ’s reign] are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations… – Revelation 20:7-8a
A week ago today, we all watched something that was both horrific and historic. As I sat here in my home and watched it all unfold, my eye caught Jesus’ name twice on signs the people were holding or had displayed at the Capitol. Jesus, these people felt, was with them in what they were doing.
It is a remarkable juxtaposition to see a woman holding a “What Would Jesus Do” sign as not too far away a law enforcement officer was being beaten by a mob on the steps of the center of our nation’s democracy.
What version of Jesus were those people carrying with them, I wondered? Jesus, or The Christ, in Revelation, is a warrior who tramples underfoot the unrighteous and sinful in a sea of blood in order to make the world right again. The actual Jesus who preached non-violence, prayer for persecutors, and forgiveness for enemies, is practically the antithesis of The Christ in the vision of John of Patmos in the closing chapter of our Bible.
Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Revelation Christ was the one those signs were talking about.
The Jesus I know, the one who said that loving one’s neighbor was on equal ground as loving God, would never have been part of something like what happened last week. He would have, in point of fact, spoken strongly against it. Loving one’s neighbor is the opposite of what was on display that day. Rage and misinformation blinded people to that truth, and I have no doubt Jesus was heartbroken at the sight of it all and that his name was thrown into the mix as people screamed all manner of obscenities and threats at one another, beat one another, and took one another’s lives.
I worry about how Jesus’ name is invoked to justify unrest and violence. I worry about the ways in which God’s spirit is invoked in some of the truly scary videos I’ve now been made aware of regarding our 45th President by certain extreme corners of our population. I worry about the ways in which the loving heart of Emmanuel is being twisted and horribly misunderstood.
But then, that isn’t anything new, is it?
Creator and Redeemer, let us be living examples of the heart of your Holy Name so the world will better know when that name is used in vain and for a lesser purpose.