“The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” 1 Cor. 1: 25.
One of the things that encourages me that the Lord is coming back soon is how well the world has been prepared for His coming. The knowledge of God’s ways and character – His Name – is widespread and acknowledged by even many who do not follow the forms of religion that are so often followed in the West. In this the saying is true, the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
Peacemakers understand the power of forgiveness and apply it to all sorts of conflicts and situations. Blessed are the merciful is one of the beautiful attitudes Jesus describes as being the heart of followers of His Name in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). Many recognise the superiority of mercy over judgement.
Love is understood by many to be the ultimate virtue. God is love, many believe this. Many also understand and celebrate in culture and films that this love is most shown by someone laying down their lives for another. It is just a small step for evangelists to point out the most Supreme Sacrifice of them all and so help others to fall in love with the One they love.
This is so obvious that many Christians (especially religious ones) cannot see it and go about creating religious kingdoms of their own so they can more easily contain – and control – God’s kingdom. The generosity of God and His working through the poor in spirit, the meek and simple lovers all over the world at this time is missed by them while they dispute about how many angels can dance on the top of a pin or which politician most reflects their particular viewpoint.
If we all understood a bit more history we might find it easier to see God’s Kingdom on the earth as it is being manifested in our days. Before Jesus came this Way was not understood. Tom Holland (an historian) puts this point very well in this article from his website*. He says that here in the West we are like goldfish swimming around in a goldfish bowl and completely missing the fact that we live and breathe in a culture completely suffused with Jesus’ way of thinking about things. A Way alien to those other cultures. Where power and wisdom ruled in Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome and those kingdoms inspired by them, Jesus substituted the foolishness of a message about a crucified and resurrected God who is meek and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:27-30) and whose dwelling place is with those of a similar heart (Isaiah 57:15).
Thanks to multi-media there is nowhere in the world now that is not affected by this wonderful way of thinking, this Name of Jesus, though some places reflect it less well than others. My wife and I have lived in what is probably one of the more alien cultures – that of the Middle East – for some time. When you hear someone tell you with a straight face that it is “right” for the older brother to kill someone in their family who converts to Christianity or witness the atrocities of the Taliban you can get a glimpse of what it might mean to grow up in a culture suffused with another name that that of Jesus.
For millennia peoples took their lead about how to behave and what was right and wrong from the four great cultures that dominated their thinking: the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans. The thinking (the names) of these great civilisations have continued their influence down through the generations. However, a greater Name – a different understanding and practice – not made by humans in their wisdom but carved out by God, has struck these edifices with the incarnation, death and resurrection of the Son of God. Since then this Name and Kingdom has been growing into a mighty mountain that is filling the earth with His ways and all other thinking about how to do things is scattering in the wind of His Spirit.
The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar saw this in a dream and the prophet Daniel explained it to him (Daniel 2). Later on Daniel had further visions of the four beasts and what would follow (Daniel 7). We are living in the days of the Great Kingdom of God that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people or civilization for none will come after it. His Kingdom will endure forever.
We need to be careful how we promote this Kingdom. It’s primary way of growing is through the relentless growth of the underdog like grass in a great savanna or the welling up of waters from hidden springs. The poor in spirit and the meek inherit this kingdom and promote it. The peacemakers rule here, the merciful and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. In this Kingdom you gain your life by losing it, not by trying to hold onto power, but by yielding to your persecutors and rejoicing while being persecuted. This way, that is so like the way Jesus took as He went to the Cross, is alien to us and needs supernatural power to walk in. Our reason revolts at the idea of winning a victory by laying down your life.
Let us see His Name in others. Don’t judge and you will not be judged.
God is doing more and is greater than the narrow bounds of your religion would have you believe.
*Call out to Kris Vallotton for pointing me in the direction of Tom Holland’s views on this issue through a post on his FB feed (9th July ’21).