we have heard it said that the Corona virus is a 'leveller'. On one level that is true - it can infect anybody, and all of us can spread it. It doesn't matter who you are. We have members of the Royal Family, senior government officials, and people in well paid senior positions in society all succumb. Yet when we look at the overall effects of the virus, we find it is not a leveller.
The poorest communities have been hit hardest by far, and people from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds affected disproportionally too. The recent government report was disappointing, because it only told us what we already knew from just glancing at the statistics. The reality is that we have injustices built in to our systems in society, which are still not acknowledged or faced by those who have the levers of the power. There is legitimate basis for much of the anger in recent demonstrations.
The verses in Revelation 7 (verses 9 to 10) project onto the wall a great image for us to think about. It is a wonderful image of the people gathered in salvation. In the detail we see people from every nation, every tribe, every people and every language. That's pretty clear! It doesn't leave anyone out because of their colour, race or background.
The image is of people gathered. It is a reversal of the scattering in the early chapters of the Bible story. And it is before Jesus (the 'Lamb'). Before Him all humanity can come together, they can find their place, and find fulfilment. This is a wonderful image. It is a Kingdom image. A projection for us to get a clue of God's desire.
For us, we too have to come to this same Jesus. The Lamb shows us that it is the killed and resurrected Jesus. We have to come to Him and ask for His light to shine. We need His light because our own light (our own wisdom) is quite frankly insufficient - we have blind spots, we have ignorance, which stop us seeing our own deep seated prejudices. Only the light of Jesus can truly expose these.
As followers of Jesus, when we first meet people (and have the whole first impression thing), we must learn to be colour-blind - making our first thoughts not based on colour (as well as clothes, jewellery, etc.). Yet also as followers of Jesus I believe we then have to be colour-affirming.
This is about being counter-cultural, going actively against the systems which will maintain injustices and keep doing it wrong. For us to do that requires us to change the balance, giving the very people subjected to unjust treatment much much better. It requires us to apply a course correction in the way we work. A pilot wanting to fly due north, but knowing there is a wind blowing to the west, will set a bearing that takes that wind into account. That is what we need to do with injustices: setting a course that deliberately counters the cultural winds.
Why do we do this? The image in Revelation chapter 7 is a Kingdom image. Note it is not simply 'up there' in heaven - remember God's desire is to bring heaven to earth. We are a Kingdom people: we want to see Kingdom Life across the city! So we pray 'Your Kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven' and seek to put that prayer into practice - being colour-blind in first impressions, and colour-affirming to be counter cultural.
The Corona virus seeks to infect, make ill, bring death, pull people apart with grief. The centre of the Kingdom image is Jesus: He releases, heals, raises up and gathers together. So what or who is the true leveller? It is Jesus, the Lamb, the King of Kings.