Common Faith Network
Church of God Cincinnati
The culture we live in is not a godly one. None of us can say we live in a “Christian nation.” While we may share some values with the dominant culture(s), living the way Jesus did involves a very different lifestyle than the ones that are most socially acceptable. That leaves Christians with a choice. […]
One sunny morning I was walking in Downtown Lee's Summit and paused in front of the First Baptist Church. My eye followed the tall spire toward the sky, and I saw at the top of it something that looked a bit strange. Instead of a cross I saw something that at first looked like a piece of modern art, but upon further examination it was an artistic rendering of two Greek letters: Alpha and Omega.
This spire embellishment is a clear reference to the first chapter of the Book of Revelation, verse 8: "'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,' says the Lord. 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'"
What does it mean to be the Alpha and the Omega, and is it a fitting symbol for a Christian house of worship in place of a cross?
Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, the beginning and the end of the alphabet, or as it is written in Revelation 22, where this phrasing is used: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." This is an indirect quote from Isaiah 44:6:
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts: "I am the First and I am the Last. Besides me there is no God."Clearly using Alpha and Omega in the way that this church is using it, though not a common practice, is well within a biblical standard.
But what exactly is the significance on this moniker?
In Luke's gospel Jesus asks a question. "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?" Here were people who claim that Jesus is their Lord, but is he really? Is he really first and last in their lives? Many people claim the title of Christian, but their lives do not bear the fruit of one who has the Alpha and Omega as the beginning and end of their lives. Look at what Jesus says just before this "Lord, Lord" statement:
For every tree is known by its own fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:44-45)Jesus is either our Lord or he is not, and he is explicit on what it means to have him as our Lord. Revelation 22:13-14 addresses it this way:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and End, the First and the Last. Blessed are those who do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.It seems to me that the First Baptist Church in Lee's Summit is on to something. Alpha and Omega together are a wonderful logo to place atop your spire.
You may be an ambassador to England or FranceThese lyrics came to mind after a recent Bible study that covered Romans 6, specifically verse 16: "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (KJV)
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls.
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.
-- Bob Dylan
Sometimes people think of law as a restriction on freedom, and especially so when speaking of the law of God. But in reality the law of God is all about freedom. James refers to it as such:
But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:25)
So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. (James 2:12)
Think of the law as a series of guardrails. Stay within the guardrails, and they will save you a lot of trouble. You might think that plowing your own path based on your own rules will be liberating, but you'll find out before long that those guardrails are there to protect you. They are instructions telling us how to make life work. The law tells us how to treat one another and how to live in a peaceful and respectful society. Which of these laws are a burden?
1. Put first things first, and God is first.
2. Don't worship stuff the stuff you make.
3. Watch your language.
4. Take time off.
5. Respect your elders, especially your parents.
6. Murder is evil.
7. Be faithful to your mate. Honor marriage.
8. Leave other people's stuff alone. Work for your own stuff.
9. Tell the truth.
10. Don't be jealous over other people's good fortune.
If we took these rules and made them the basis of our culture, imagine how much better our world would be. Imagine if we as a society just lived by one of them -- any one of them. We would have a world radically different from the one we have, one with more freedom and security than perhaps we can imagine given the state of the today's world. Being free from such a law might seem to bring freedom (take whatever you want, sleep with whomever you want, say whatever you want, etc.), but what you'll really have is a Darwinian world where the strong have the power and wealth and the weak perish. Think North Korea.
We can be servants of God and live in the freedom that his law brings or be servants of sin and experience a culture of death. Which will it be? You gotta serve somebody.