The landscape lies barren and smouldering. Not a single statue remains as history is shaken, revised, deep cleaned, detoxified, and neatly folded.
The people walk around in masks, or are they muzzles? The pervading culture cancels any who step out of line. Society is increasingly, ignorantly, intolerant. The unspoken collective agreement is so loud it’s hard to miss in the sterile stillness of the atmosphere. Monkey not see, monkey not hear, monkey not speak, monkey not do. Political correctness permeates the air across the globe every bit as lethal as climate change melts the ice fields. Out of sight, out of your mind.
A brave new world?
Corruption in leadership makes the Corona virus resemble a mild flu. Heads of state line their wallets while picking the pockets of the poor without shame (time and time again). Politicians scratch each others backs, are sweet talked by lobbyists, deal in the shadows, and deny culpability when questioned. The buck is worn out and threadbare from too much handling in the passing. Everyone has a point of view, a conspiracy, an opinion; knows who to point the finger at. No-one is responsible, no-one is to blame, no-one has the guts to lead sacrificially, nor to lay down their lives for integrity.
But that’s not true. There surely are some?
The moral conscience and watchdog of many a country used to be the Church. It was the steward and guardian of a message for all time with a hope not rooted in this landscape, culture, or corruption. It gathered around a statue that no matter how many times was cut down kept rising again. Blood stained and scarred it never surrendered, never retaliated, and was never overwhelmed. It patiently and faithfully bore witness to a truth unseen by the naked eye and yet within the grasp of every outstretched hand – from politician to peasant. Grace was it’s mandate; justice, mercy, and generosity were core values.
But the stewards themselves looked away, succumbing to the crowd, seduced by cash, sacred cows, and fleeting power. They lost their voice, their authority, and the respect of those who once used to at least listen. In America, allegiance to the Democrat or Republican worldview treats Christian votes like prostitutes who seem more than willing and eager participants in this political adultery. In Britain every gentleman’s agreement has rightly been challenged by women as ancient alliances between church and state are tested. In Canada it’s hard to remember the last time the church was seen or heard of in any matter of national importance, other than that linked to atrocities in residential schools.
We could travel the world. Almost everywhere (certainly in the West) that ancient Christian Statue, the Cross, is no longer held proud and high. A witness to the One true God revealed through His Son Jesus, crucified, dead, resurrected. The One who was not bought politically, never cowed by populist rancor, nor swayed by the threat of violence. The One who gave people of every persuasion freedom to speak, to express, to disagree – if that’s what they wanted. Yes, He warned of responsibility and consequences. Not punishment or vengeance, merely the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
This barren landscape desperately needs the witness of love, truth, justice, and integrity displayed in the character of Jesus born again in His disciples. It needs to ponder and view His statue, naked and unadorned – stripped of our pet superimposed issues, be they gender, race, politics, or trade. His message cannot be hijacked. It recognizes neither solidarity nor compromise with any cry arising from any quarter, no matter how righteous or noble.
It calls us to stop and consider. Deeply reflect on the state of our own heart, the quality of our vision, the courage of our love, the humility of our service.
Let him, or her, without sin throw the first stone (John 8:7). “What’s He thinking, being so offensive to powerful church leadership who are only dealing with a common problem among peasants….?”
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye (Matthew 7:5). “Now He’s offending everyone…. by telling them to stop being so critical and judgemental of others. How naive. What will we talk about over coffee?”
Unless you turn and become like a child you will never enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3). “I prefer the intellectual discussion. Actually doing? I will, maybe, when I fully agree and understand, when I have time….”
Love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12). “I’m sure He didn’t really mean it. I only love those who I agree with, or who are nice to me, or whom I don’t really know too well…. know what I mean?”
It’s hard for us to really and truly grasp that God has no favorites, hobby horses, or pet issues. Look at creation and it’s wide variety and infinite detail. Marvel at the seemingly never-ending array of colors, species of animal, geographical magnificence, and above all the splendour of the night sky. This is not a small God with petty ideas, and limited capacity. There’s no possibility for us to grasp His expanse, His mind, His ability to restore, resurrect and recreate.
But He does give us a window through the person of Jesus. He lived a life on earth touched by the vastness of His Father encapsulated in human form. And His example, teaching, and values will challenge us to death – and then life again. But it is ‘we’ who must die.
In this world of partisanship, one-upmanship, issue-driven alliances, and assassinating ‘the other’, we might be well served to remember how extraordinary Jesus is, and was, and will be.
He has no favorites, neither does He make special allowance for friends. Remember how he challenged Peter when he tried to dissuade Jesus from heading to Jerusalem and suffering? How he berated James and John for wanting to destroy a Samaritan village? How he wept over Jerusalem when the inhabitants chose to ignore Him? How He exhorted us to allow the weeds and the wheat to grow together and not be too hasty to judge and condemn? How he taught about paying wages whether someone worked for a day or just one hour? When challenged He replied it was the owner’s prerogative; do you have a problem with His generosity? He posed the question?
When heaven comes to earth we’re told the lion will lie down with the lamb. Perhaps from Heaven’s perspective Liberal needs Conservative, Republican needs Democrat, Protestant needs Catholic, Woman needs Man, Church needs Marketplace, Nature needs Nurture, Christian needs Skeptic… and so we could go on.
Could we, in these challenging times, be a little kinder, listen better, be slower to presume and judge, and refrain from being issue driven as a basis for love and relationships. Just sayin….. 🙂
Here’s a lovely song that Melissa Helser introduces. A song she wrote when her addicted brother finally said ‘yes’ to help. Let’s never give up on one another….. Here’s her intro and then the full version. Be blessed.
Thank you John. I love the way you share what you see, raw and unencumbered. The song really stirred my spirit and encouraged me.