The big hitters, the power-brokers, the Tiberiuses of the world need no help, ask for no help, demonstrate their self-sufficiency by their unstoppable legions and especially by their shrewd handling of social structures that shape powerless people, that make them dependent and content and submissive or resentful and bitter but hopeless and controlled. World-makers they are, these emperors who will say things like this to gathered ambassadors and representatives of little fretful nations:
“Here—here’s plenty of bread, here are good roads, here’s a political voice, here’s military assurance of protection against invaders and domestic subversives. Satisfied? Good, now fall down and worship me, the provider of all you care about and all you know you need. The only sin you can commit that I take any notice of is the sin of rejecting me as your god. Do that and I’ll bury you.
“Do that and I will send my ruthless and unstoppable legions against you. They’ll come like a horde of locusts, countless and devouring, covering your land as they have done with so many lands and nations that thought they could resist us. We’ll sanction you until you beg for mercy while your leaders dine and sleep in luxury. There is nothing we cannot do; our power is limitless. We hold the power of life and death.”
That’s how a Roman emperor would speak—the world’s most powerful man! Meanwhile, as the crow flies, something like 1450 miles away in a little village a young man is speaking to a worried group of men and he says, “Fear not little flock. For it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
And on the outskirts of Bethany He says to a grieving girl whose brother lies rotting in a cave just outside the town:
How familiar the words!
He’s a young man, hardly yet in his prime.
What’s He saying? He’s saying: “I am the cure of death!
I’m the destroyer of death.
I frighten Death.
Death trembles at My name for My name is: RESURRECTION.”
“Yes, yes, yes. All very pious. The kind of thing that sounds plausible at religious gatherings but we’re facing real life, real terrorist threats, real collapsing economies, real calamities where homes, businesses, families, entire towns and little nations are brought to ruin.”
Indeed, the young man who never became an earthly president or king sounds like a lunatic and those who believe Him must all be idiots. And the non-believing answer is what? That the human family that created the social/economic/military and international mess can cure it? It can ensure justice for the already tormented and murdered millions and those that are dying as we read/write this?
“Well, we can’t fix everything but we are curing and fixing a lot without any help from outside.”
Oh I don’t believe we are curing or fixing anything without “help from outside,” but neither would I deny that much good is being pursued and achieved by humans, including humans who choose not to believe in God and His Holy Son, Jesus Christ. I believe the Holy God sees and takes seriously the awful sorrow and wrongs of the world and that’s why we hear words like, “Fear not, for I bring you good news…Unto you is born…a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” With help we cure and bring good things and in rejecting help we create havoc, terror and prolonged suffering for the countless. Yesterday, 11-30-16, the news report said that Kenya will shut down the world’s largest refugee camp—300,000 plus that live in a wilderness in the flimsiest structures. They are kept from dying by devoted people who distribute constant supplies of medicine, food and water, that are barely minimum. What is it that these wretched poor fear? They fear they will lose their place in that hell-hole and be sent “home” to where the butchers and torturers reign!
“Words. Words. Nothing but mere words.”
No, not mere words; the young man who spoke to Martha turns to us and looking steadily at us, out from and off the pages of the Bible, and says to all the tormented of all the ages, “Poor hurting and plundered people, you never had much, you have little or nothing now and you may never have anything in this world but know this one thing—I will right all the wrongs and I will give to you all the years that the locusts have eaten. I am not only the resurrection—I am life! You have never known justice in this life but I will see to it that you will have justice and joy and life in a new world that is coming. I could explain my Holy Father’s purpose and His way of working but right now you wouldn’t be able to bear it. Explanation isn’t what you want right now—you just want the evil and the pain to stop now, not later, and you only have My word for it that I will deal with it but if you will be brave and trust Me, a day will come when you’ll be delirious with joy, unbroken peace in righteousness and glad truth and holiness.”
(Holy Father, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, even we who are blessed to believe in you through the Savior, don’t understand at all well and we too ask, “How long…?” At times we wonder how You expect anyone to believe in You. And because we too are so vulnerable to the pain and losses in life we are sometimes astonished that we can continue, sincerely to sing your praises. So we thank You for keeping and guarding us through faith and sustaining in us a living hope. But Father we’re thinking this moment of those who have not heard and will not hear of You in truth through our Lord Jesus and so they can do no other than look here, there and everywhere for help but don’t know to look to You. How can they know You? How can they hope and in that hope brave out their agony-filled lives without hope? How can they believe You have made a commitment to them? How does that commitment show, they would want to know! Must they in their ignorance be damned now by evil and unstoppable powers and then damned to eternal destruction by ignorance? Twice damned?
Will you open our eyes to the wideness of Your love and your genuine care for those who do not and cannot know you, please! And in giving us a fuller vision of the truth about You will you urge us to tell it! Will you deliver us from our self-centered pursuit of more and more, more rights, more freedoms, more comforts while they sink deeper and deeper with less and less! Help us to show them that we really believe what we say about you by our living gallantly with our own pain until that day when all pain and sorrow will eternally end. This prayer in Jesus Christ.)