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Pastor Jim’s Blog: Seeing the Light


While my son Kenneth and I were hiking last week while on vacation in the Olympic Mountains, and taking pictures, of course, I said to him: “You know when we take pictures we aren’t taking pictures of things but of light – photography is all about light.”  This illustrates metaphorically what I was trying to say a couple of weeks ago in reference to Revelation.  John of Patmos’s world is a spiritual world.  For him the spiritual is as actual as the physical, maybe more so.  The physical illuminates the spiritual.  I know all that talk about Battlestar Galactica  might have confused – I reckoned I was not speaking to an audience that has seen the show; the main thing is to understand that if we are to understand what Revelation is about we have enter John’s world and John’s world is very spiritual.  We are rational people – we trust our reason and make decisions based upon what is logical.  (Please excuse another sci-fi reference but this tendency is well illustrated by Spock in Star Trek.)  When we look at pictures we usually see the object in the picture – is it a picture of an animal or a person or a particular landscape.  It’s an altogether different perspective to see the light revealed in the object.  John saw the light.

This Sunday I will be talking about the larger spiritual framework of John’s world.  For John there are two Empires:  The Empire of this World and the Empire of God.  The Greek word for “empire” is baseleia.  It is always translated as “kingdom” but that has lost any real power; when we say the “Kingdom of God” we mean it more as a given name than a metaphor that carries deep meaning.  It would be helpful for us if we expanded the possible translations of this term and at least to call it the “Empire of God” rather than “Kingdom” – but this could be a long tangential discussion.  When John is talking about these two Empires he is not speaking objectively; he isn’t imagining two different physical places.  More to the point, he is thinking of powers –forces in the world.  They are two kinds of light that infuse and empower the physical world.  In the Gospel According to John (a different John than the author of Revelation) when Jesus tells Pilate that his Empire (Kingdom) is not of this world he doesn’t mean that it is in a different space – in outer space or in heaven; he means that his Empire has nothing to do with the workings of Empire that Pilate is enmeshed in – political power, money, the domination of other people.  When Jesus says in the Gospel According to Mark that the “Empire of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel, he means to say that another power is now present in the world; that is the power of God.  Repent simply means to turn around – so turn around, away from the Empire of all that Pilate is involved in to the Empire of God.

I will be preaching on Revelation this spring (see the revised worship schedule).  My hope is that we all will better see the light.  P.Jim




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