Why the church cannot flee history

In his commentary on the Book of Revelation, Joseph L. Mangina writes:

To say that we are the community of the end times does not, to be sure, absolve us of the burdens of history. An apocalyptic-messianic faith like Judaism and Christianity cannot flee history, not only because this is impossible, but because messianism inevitably has the life of the nations in view. There is no Messiah apart from his people or the nations he rules as king. Even the summons to flee Babylon (18:4) is not a summons to flee the human city as such; rather it highlights that in the human city fidelity to God is impossible. The question is not whether the church is in history, but how it is there. The church lives in history restless, dissatisfied, filled with longing for the final apocalypse of the one who has graciously come to dwell among us in the flesh. The reason Christianity is “beyond tragedy” as Reinhold Niebuhr put it, is that while the church suffers tribulation and has its martyrs, it knows that the death of the martyrs is their participation in the blood of the Lamb; the same holds true for those who suffer with Christ in less dramatic ways. The Lamb’s victory, his life poured out in excess and flowing like a river through the city of God, means that there is more of comedy than of tragedy in this story. The church lives in Babylon with a kind of sovereign freedom, knowing that Babylon does not get to dictate what constitutes ultimate victory, defeat, and truth. The Lamb’s followers conquer not by defeating the beast on his own terms (cf. 13:7), but by enduring faithfully to the end on God’s terms.

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