What a difficult time the world is having. We’ve been shocked to hear about soldiers killed senselessly in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richeleau. Violence continues in Syria, and more girls have been kidnapped in Nigeria. The stock market took a hit with all the uncertainty around us. The bad news just seems to keep on coming. It causes us to feel anxiety, outrage and fear.
It would do us well to consider the tumultuous first century. Two Caesars are mentioned in the New Testament, with figurative mention of others (book of Revelation). Most were assassinated, throwing the empire into chaos. Two extensive famines are mentioned in the book of Acts and 1 Corinthians, motivating the church to raise emergency funds to help people out. Pagan religion opposed the gospel; there was violence against Christians. Many of the apostles were killed or exiled. The Judaizers were busy shaking up new congregations. It was not an easy time to live; the world seemed to be falling apart!
What can we learn from their experience? An answer can be found by reading the soothing picture in Revelation 4:1-6. Here God shows stressed Christians their true standing. We’re represented by 24 elders sitting around the throne of God, where all is calm. They sit on a sea of glass like crystal. The world may be churned up like a storm on the sea (13:1), but we sit unruffled in strength, protected by God. From a position of confidence we can reach out with care for worried people. The world may be shaky, but we don’t have to be.
– Tim Johnson