The great illusion is that somehow the old imperialist ways can be married to the Gospel of the Prince of Peace as “Christendom” and produce the Kingdom of God. In the New Testament that Kingdom is described as “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”, the “peaceable Kingdom” where justice and mercy kiss each other and oppression and violence are banished for ever. The early Christian witness to their persecutors was “see how they love one another” not how they condemn and slaughter one another, let alone the unbelieving pagan masses.
Think about any mountain-top or peak experience or achievement your have ever had. Maybe it was finally breaking through in your career or chosen role in life and getting the recognition and reward you longed for and felt you justly deserved. Maybe it was winning the heart of “the One” and believing your “live-happily-ever-after” dream was coming true. Maybe it was winning a big competition, or the big championship, the gold medal, the highest individual honour in the that thing you are really passionate about! Maybe it was an heroic act that wowed the people all around and astonished even yourself in the doing – and still does when you think back on it. Maybe it was the “eureka” moment of your conversion to God when you decided to live to honour the Creator.
…by the end of the Fourth Century CE, the Imperial Church had emerged full-blooded, while the original sense of Jesus calling His followers apart to follow a different path was far from lost among millions of his followers who looked with alarm on this heavy-footed march into full-blown political and social involvement of the most injurious kind for a movement supposed to lead people into the Kingdom of God rather than a holy-water-sprinkled repurposing of “Caesar-is-Lord” (even of the Church) as per the Roman (morphing into Byzantine by that point) model.
The Yeshua way is a lot harder than gathering a powerful army, marching into some place, ordering everyone to believe or face the alternative of, at best, being a slave or lower-class menial serving the elite, or, at worst, death and destruction. The Yeshua way is feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, caring for the poor and destitute and downtrodden, lifting up the oppressed and bringing them hope, and even offering mercy and the opportunity to repent and change to the most depraved and criminal.
What the US brand of ultra-Evangelicalism most resembles historically is the fanatical Crusaders who believed that killing those who refused to accept Christ or opposed the preaching of His message was both just and essential if His Kingdom is ever to be brought into the world. There is none of the humility and self-understanding of being a fallible sinner that might even betray the Master that we find in the Apostles or the Apostolic and Post-Apostolic Fathers (and Mothers) of the ancient Church. There is no hint of the first believers who “turned the whole world upside down” and shook the foundations of the Empire itself by turning the other cheek, turning back to be crucified with his people, as Peter did, or heading to Rome to face the Emperor himself even if it meant death, as Paul did. There is no hint of “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you and persecute you, and so you will prove yourselves to be the children of your Heavenly Father”.
We think the “burglar” in this little parable is the bad-guy and the householder is the good-guy, but the whole context turns that on its head. The “householder” is the strong-man (as he is called in a parallel passage) who invaded the house and usurped the property of the rightful owner. It is the Satan who has done this to the beautiful world God created. The “burglar” is the rightful owner coming back to claim his own. That is why Jesus says “he will come like a thief in the night”.
The coming together of the Cosmic “evil one” and the human propensity to seek our own aggrandizement at the expense of everyone and everything else typically and periodically produce especially monstrous eruptions that leave the whole world reeling and the human race lying in a shambles. Shifting the blame, we point the finger at God as if the Deity is responsible for allowing us to behave demonically rather than exercising His omnipotence to prevent such horrors. The Accuser laughs all the while from behind the Oz-Curtain, and we fool ourselves that we are justified because God doesn’t just cut evil out of our hearts and kill the most monstrous perpetrators.
While there is life, there is hope. – Marcus Tullius Cicero A ship should not ride on a single anchor, or a life on a single hope. – Epictetus When hope is taken away from a people moral degeneration follows swiftly after. – Pearl S. Buck A great Hope fell You heard no noise TheContinue reading “Faith and Hope – Assurance and Conviction 9 – Conclusion – Hope and Assurance, 2”
Despite the self-flagellating oddity of the West’s admission of guilt, it is paradoxically out of the much-maligned West that all these much needed calls for reform and equalization of injustices and rights have come.
As far as I can make out in reading scientific treatments of the question of origins written for ordinary folks, the farthest the cosmologists can reach back is about 14-15 billion years to the Big Bang. Whether and why there was anything before that to “Bang” is, for the present and foreseeable future, enshrouded inContinue reading “Faith and Hope: Assurance and Conviction, 7 – The Smell of Blood”