By your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, –
Revelation 5:9 (Similar line in 7:9)
A social media game I have seen is to ask what your most controversial post ever was. In terms of being the recipient of a two-minute hate, I’ve had three posts that might qualify. One regarding parenting, one regarding a basketball player and the third regarding AI. Honestly, all of those were predictable and easily relatable. But I had a fourth one that doesn’t qualify as a two-minute hate because not enough people dog-piled. I don’t think it was relatable enough. It was based on the above passage of scripture. But those who did react, did so with vehemence.
The division was this. There are those who I imagine have the U2 Song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” playing in their head. One of the verses contains: “I believe in the Kingdom Come/Then all the colors will bleed into one.” Which is 100% true. And that one is the robe of Christ’s righteousness that the Apostle John sees the great multitude that no one could count wearing. But it is also true that the tribe, language, people and nation markers were still recognizable. It is when I made that comment, that some markers of who we are now continue and are recognizable even in the eschaton, that many people went nuts. But both things, unity and difference, are somehow true in the resurrection.
And I don’t think this should exactly surprise us if we know the Biblical Story. Genesis 10 is the Table of the Nations. It contains the 70 nations that derive from Noah after the flood. Which with a little translation you can still roughly trace those nations or peoples into the modern world. That table of the nations – another word for it would be the gentiles – segues into God choosing one specific new people, the Jews. The nations are handed over to the world, while God reserves for himself one nation, the least of them. Now, out of that one nation, we are given Jesus – Israel reduced to one. Jesus sends out 70 disciples in Luke 10. And God reclaims from the gentiles, from every tribe and language and people and nation, a ransomed people. Which John sees gathered in heaven. God never gave up on all His people.
It also shouldn’t surprise us because God consistently claims what Paul says in Acts 17:26, “having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling places, that they should seek God.” The nations of the world have always been of interest to God. Enough that when they live, and when they die and where they sojourn on this earth are determined by Him.
On weekends like July 4 th I sometimes ponder what a perfected or maybe a better word completed citizen of the United States looks like. What does it mean to be part of the American subsection of the heavenly host? To get to that you have to go to the last of those four qualifiers: nation. In that way the United States is a little bit like heaven before it is time. E pluribus unum, out of many, one. Maybe why so many people didn’t like my observation. They want the one and can’t image the mosaic God is making. Some of us share a language with the English, but there are Americans who don’t speak English. There are many peoples that reside in the United States. And there are many tribes. It doesn’t escape me that as long as the nation sought God – as Acts 17:26 talks about – the unity could be found. And the United States has long sought God in many ways. It was founded and populated by people seeking God from the Mayflower on. It has only been as that quest has subsided that our unity has become strained. It is almost as if the unity can only be sustained by divine means. Echoes of Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity.
I’ve used up my allotted space. So I’ll close with this. The primary trait of those saints is their unity in Christ. That is what covers all. But we have been placed where we are for the purpose of God’s formation. And somehow, that fulfilled American, is to the glory of God. May the American section of heaven be loud and large.