Understanding the value of diversity is a great struggle and a great theme in modern life. But two millennia ago the story of civilization as recorded in Revelation offers preview. Eventually we will gather around Someone worth gathering around. In the fractious and conflict-ridden history of humanity this poses an outrageous idea. We can hardly imagine it. And we all have notions about who should not be allowed to be part of this gathering.
But the good news is that we will have some help getting prepared for this all-inclusive social network. Most rational people would admit that we need help in preparing. The bad news is that a lot of people think they know best who should be included in this standing-room-only crowd. I would suggest a rethinking of that position.
The biblical text testifies that we are not the ones who will be deciding the makeup of this group. Right off the bat we have one hundred forty-four thousand who are “sealed”—people from diverse tribes who stand before the throne robed in white. But verse 9 reminds us of the scope of God’s people: “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” All we can do is say yes and move toward God and become part of the divine congregation or say no and move away from the Someone into light years of loneliness.
Don’t forget the words, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal” because they serve as an honest appraisal of the difficulty of spiritual life. We will struggle, experience dark times, and suffer, but if we have exercised the muscle of faith we will join that throng before the throne to say, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Jesus, help us run the race and fight the good fight and do it for as long as we live. Amen.


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