The End in mind
As I return after a 16-year foray into the practice of law, I am tempted to take my time, wade in slowly, and gently approach. And as I write this, I remember the saying “Begin with the end in mind.” I am choosing to forgo the buildup, however.
Rather than begin with the end in mind, I want to begin at the end, which is the last message God meant for His people—you and me. Revelation 18:4: “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.’ "
As far as revelations go, this one is pretty straightforward. “Come out of her.” “Her,” in this instance, is Babylon. Not the real place ruined millennia ago, but “spiritual” (some call it “mystical”) Babylon. It’s a spiritual mind-set of confusion. It is Bible mixed with opinion, truth along with error, popular teachings endorsed by powerful people. It’s a twisting of God’s words or a watering down of His intentions. As a result, God’s people are confused and confusing. So He says, Come away from that. Distance yourselves.
“Lest you share in her sins.” What an ancient word, “sins.” Yet we’re told that sins will exist until the end of time, even though the use of the term seems archaic. When you are so confused that what you used to know as wrong appears to be right, and what you had learned to be right is now wrong, it is easy to see how your actions would be sinful.
“Lest you receive of her plagues.” There is no question here as to what will happen to her—Babylon. The question I want you to ask yourself is: How do I respond to this call?
So many times I stood beside my clients in court, dreading that final pronouncement that meant that incarceration was imminent. Even if I did not know beforehand what the judge’s decision was going to be, I could almost always predict it. My client would be the one holding out hope, not me. One morning I stood shoulder to shoulder with a teenage repeat offender. The judge lit into her for failing to comply with the law, failing to honor her parents’ directions, and failing to follow school regulations. Such reproof was a veritable guarantee that the potential consequences at the judge’s disposal would soon be a reality in this girl’s life. I winced and found myself actually moving aside.
The judge called me into her chambers afterward. “Ms. Monk-Crawford, was something wrong out there?”
“I was just trying to stay out of the line of fire, Your Honor,” I told her.
Likewise, now, I want to move away from conflict and confusion. Judgment is coming, and for too long we’ve been under the spell of corruption in and around us. For too long preachers and teachers have misinterpreted precious gems in Scripture. For too long some of us have lived with addiction’s foot bearing on our necks. For too long we have exhausted ourselves, trying to keep up appearances while evil lurks in our homes. For too long we’ve failed to do the spiritual work necessary—simply the opening of the heart, the acceptance of forgiveness, and living the life of grace.
One hundred and fifty years after so many were proclaimed free from physical bonds, the Creator God demands our ultimate freedom. The time is right to clear our minds and break out of those chains.