In the opening verses in the Book of Revelation, we see a phrase that is central to the entire book and conveys so much about the Christian faith in just seven words.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega.”
As we know from our understanding of Greek, Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It’s the Greek A and the Greek Z. In our modern language, then, God is saying “I am everything from A to Z.”
A statement like this is a phrase that mentions the first and the last, but the author – or speaker – essentially includes everything in the middle. God is the God of the beginning. God is the God of the end. God is the God of the middle.
But what does that mean for us?
God the Alpha points, first, to the beginning, to creation, where with God’s voice movement took place, things began to form, and life was created. We can look around and see God’s creation, God’s awesomeness and power, and be amazed and awed at the beauty of creation.
But the beginning also points to our own life. God’s grace – God’s prevenient grace – being with us in the beginning of our relationship with God leading us to a knowledge and acceptance of grace and love. God at the beginning was working in our lives before we even had the words to describe what was taking place.
God at the beginning is a part of our lives.
God the Omega points to the end when God will come again and judge the living and the dead. There will be the final victory over death and we will rest in the new creation with God.
We can see this in our own lives when we can think of a funeral. A couple of weeks ago, I had the unfortunate honor of presiding over my cousin’s funeral. God’s grace in those tender moments comforted all of us and reassured us that we would see her once again.
God at the end is a part of our lives.
We recognize that God is the beginning, the Alpha, and we recognize that God is the Omega, the end, but it’s the middle that becomes murky especially in our self-focused and self-reliant culture.
I believe we in the church today suffer from a bad case of a practical deism where we say God is present and has authority here on Earth, yet in all reality we believe God is separate from the World and that we are left to our own devises and good will to work out the middle ground of life.
We say that God is the Lord of our lives. We say that following Christ requires submission to the will of the Other. We say we understand that living the Gospel means a responsibility to care for the poor, the sick, the needy, and the widowed. Yet, that is not how we live our faith out, is it?
Instead of saying that God is the Lord of our lives, we have made government, politicians, celebrities, and ultimately our self as the true authority, the Lord of our lives. Instead of following God’s will, we follow our own and preach that being a Christian is easy. Instead of caring for the poor, the sick, the needy, and the widowed, we are more concerned about what the church can do for me than what the church can do for the world.
As Christians and as leaders of the church, we must be willing to recognize that God’s power and authority does not include just the beginning and the end, but is deeply part of our lives in the here and now. God desires to be in a relationship with us in these middle moments, to help us, and guide us, to know and learn what it means to be to be Christ followers in this ever complicated world.
God desires to be the God of our middle, to be the Lord of our lives.
And that is the fulfillment of everything from A to Z.
2 thoughts on “The God of the Middle”
seems I heard this somewhere before…
Nice job Shannon.
No clue where you heard it, Dan. None! Thanks for the compliment. Now that I’m not so out of it, it wasn’t too bad. A little worried about the two sermons. I’m going to start working on them, I believe, over the break.