Back in March, as we were canceling our Spring Break plans and “hunkering down,” my husband read through the grocery list I made and joked that it looked like I was preparing for the Apocalypse. I responded in all seriousness that I was sure that things were going to get very apocalyptic. The word nerd in me couldn’t shake the real meaning of the word apocalypse. In English it popularly refers to the cataclysmic end of the world but in biblical Greek apocalypse means revelation. The book of Revelation isn’t so much about the destruction of the world as we know it as it is a revelation or unveiling of who Jesus really is. It’s the apocalypse of Jesus who comes to save and restore the whole earth.
For me the past three months have proved to be a series of apocalypses. There has been an unveiling of our ineffective politics, our fractured sense of obligation to our neighbors, our financial vulnerability, the limits of medicine and science, and our insatiable appetite for bad news and gossip. Many of us have looked in the mirror and not liked the view that has been revealed.
The past week has produced another painful apocalypse about race and the relationship between the police and other authorities to the people they serve. We saw the grainy video of George Floyd’s murder and a veil was lifted from our eyes. Maybe so many of us were able to imagine ourselves or someone we love in his position, suffocating on the pavement. Or maybe we are so disoriented and unusually acquainted with our own pain after months of frustrating quarantine that we have new empathy for others. Either way, this apocalypse of injustice has caused an angry reaction. Some of it is violent and opportunistic, like looters destroying businesses and attacking people. And some of it is righteous anger expressed by the thousands of peaceful protesters all around the world who have demanded justice and reform.
These are painful days that leave us weary. We live unsettled lives, uncertain about what revelation may come next. Though we all long to go back to the normal lives we remember, there is no way to unsee what we have seen. I’m praying that Christians are the first ones to respond with grace, compassion, and truth to these apocalyptic days so that in us Jesus may ultimately be revealed.
More than anything I have come to see that we desperately need a savior. The veneer of our own competency is gone. The peaceful status quo was a charade. We need Jesus to save us! And that is the sure promise of his revelation, “Behold, I make all things new!” (Revelation 21:5)