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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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WHEN ROME ROUGHS YOU UP

Somebody observed the uncertain nature of life with this colorful observation: "Life can be like bungee jumping-you don't know what will happen until you reach the end of your rope." Revelation 6 reveals that at the end of the first century, Christians in the Roman Empire were not sure what was going to happen and were seemingly at the end of their rope. Rome was roughing up our early brothers and sisters in Christ. Revelation 6 records the opening of the first six of seven seals the apostle John has seen in a vision. Verses 1-8 reveal John's vision of the famous "four horsemen of the Apocalypse." They were white, red, black, and pale in color. As they thunder forth across the earth, the horses and their riders hurt and harm and kill many on earth, including many Christians. When the fifth seal is opened (6:9-11), John " saw under the altar those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held." The imagery in these visions is graphic and the scenes are impressive. Rome is roughing up the people of God. The church has seemingly reached the end of her rope and the rope, under great stress and strain, is in danger of breaking. But then, just when it appears certain the rope will snap and the church will fall to her death, the sixth seal is opened (6:12-17) and John sees a tremendous scene of judgement described in powerful symbolic language. As an earthquake off the Richter scale shakes the universe, "the stars of heaven f el I to the earth ... the sky receded as a scroll ... every mountain and island was moved out of its place ... kings ... great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rock, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!' " Through these visions John and early Christians were assured that eventually Jesus will make it rough on Rome! The rope will not break no matter how rough it gets, if they keep faith.

What "Rome" (person, place, or pain) in life is roughing you up? When hoof-beats of disappointment and discouragement come thundering into our lives, it is precisely then that we must strain our eyes of faith to see what John saw. We must look past the Rome that is roughing us up to the Day when Jesus will rough up our Romes! Motivational speaker and writer Jewel Diamond Taylor said, "Faith is like a light bulb .... you need it when you can't see where you're going and you don't know what to do. Stay in the light." When Rome roughs you up, take heart. Romes do not last forever-but Heaven does!

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ