Apocalypse. It actually means uncovering, revealing, as in the Biblical book of Revelation. But ironically we have smothered the word with such fearful connotations that we covered over the very thing that was meant to be uncovered! We fear the dangers so much we miss the main point.
Since we apparently live in such apocalyptic times... it’s well worth asking: what was meant to be uncovered? Answer: the Ending to The Big Story.
What Big Story?
The overall narrative from the beginning of time to end. The Biblical Story. The Story within which all our life stories are contained! Which begs the further question, what part will you play in it? Using the Olympic Rings, here’s a graphic summary of that Story:
Just like all great stories, there's an Author, Evil, Salvation, Freedom & Community.
Author - Blue reminds us of Creation and thus its Creator. God creates, creation is good, humans are made in God’s image, very good. But then...
Evil - Black, darkness, selfishness, the sin that damages creation. We try to take over from God, to run our own lives but only ruin our own lives. This sinful fallenness is shown from Adam and Eve, through every story in the Bible, down to the present day...
Saviour - Red, blood, the Saviour’s mortal battle to make things right.
The Law and the Prophets (>>) foreshadow and predict that Saviour to come. The Old Testament repeats stories of sin and salvation: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Israelites, Judges, Kings, Writings and Prophets: we ruin life, God saves, repeat. There are always warnings, then judgement for the stubborn, and salvation for the faithful. The cycles repeat. But then comes The Saviour...
Christmas (X) reveals the Christ, the Messiah. 'Jesus' literally means 'Saviour.' He is none other than the Creator become human, Immanuel, God-with-us.
Love summarises his message and his actions, love God first, and people as yourself.
The cross is where Jesus has DONE what we can’t DO for ourselves: he himself bore all our collective sin, guilt, shame, griefs, sorrows etc. for us, on our behalf. Thus separated from God, he dies in our stead for all of our sin. Paid in full! This means that sin is no longer held against us - we are put right with God! An amazing gift of mercy!
His resurrection overcomes death with life. This proves he has overcome our sin with his purity.
For 40 days he appears, explaining all Scripture to eyewitnesses, offering His salvation to all. Then…
Freedom - Gold, the Spirit of resurrection, in us, to set us free from the law of sin & death. Jesus ascended, then 10 days later sent His own Spirit into His people - that's whoever trusts him, helping us to live like Him. An amazing gift of grace! And this gift is still being given and received today…
Community - Green, Grow in these relationships now and forever. Go share this Big Story. Loving God and people goes on now and forever (>>), in fact The Big Story ends with a divine marriage: Christ receiving his Bride - us! The Big Story turns out to be a Divine Romance.
So for now we are supposed to Grow in those relationships: turn from our sin, trust the Creator-Saviour-Spirit, and live life his way. This trust is what determines our part in the revealed ending: will we receive His amazing gifts and be in the marriage with the faithful? Or will we refuse, ru(i)n our own lives, and face the judgement with the stubborn? Go share this Big Story to anyone who will listen.
So I’m now sharing this Big Story with you. May God give you ears to hear it and pass it on.
I'm convinced this Big Story is actually a True Story, for good reason: it is uniquely coherent, uniquely comprehensive from the beginning of time to the end, and uniquely consistent with all the data we have available to us - including logical, scientific, historical, experiential, relational and spiritual observations.
Therefore it is reasonable to expect that the revealed ending will also come true. Yes, the Apocalypse (the Revelation) contains frightening warnings and judgements, alarming events to come - wars, calamities, plagues, martyrdoms at the hands of evil economic and political ideologies. The warnings and judgements will cycle some more - exactly what we see in our day - little re-tellings of the Big Story of evil, salvation, freedom and community to come. But then The Big Story will end as revealed, with a final judgement for the stubborn, and a wedding for the Bride and Bridegroom who is the Creator-Saviour-Spirit.
But if we only focus on the calamities, we cover over the main revelation to be uncovered: the Ending to The Big Story. Don’t miss the main point... What part will you play in The Divine Romance?