“Jeesssus”~ School is a good thing, but we often transfer our experience there to the church. We begin to believe answers – knowing the right answers – is the key to Christianity. Of course right answers are important (“Jesus” often is the answer!), but truth is not found unless it is lived! Last night our lesson centered on two examples which expand on the reality that answers are not enough!
Megan and I finally finished His Dark Materials, of which you have heard of the first book, The Golden Compass. When this book came out emails flooded our in-boxes declaring this book evil. Now I will be the first to distrust mass emails, but on this subject the emails were completely correct. Mr. Pullman sets the narrative on a mission to kill God (who he names as Yahweh, among other names we know). He casts a vision of God as the controlling and evil tyrant – something which must be destroyed for humanity to find salvation. As the book concludes, with God dead, the children discover they have one mission left and the final line declares they must create the “republic of heaven”.
Of course many will miss the direct connection to Jesus, but central to His message was the “Kingdom of Heaven” (as Matthew puts it, the other gospels use Kingdom of God – Matthew, as a good Jew, avoided the use of God’s name so as not to take it in vain). For Pullman the concept of an ultimate authority, to whom we must submit, is unacceptable. He conjures a life where we may rule over our own destinies; hence, heaven becomes a republic. Of course no logic or clever words will convince Pullman, or anyone in the “free world”, that a kingdom is better than a republic. Even as I write this, or spoke of it last night, our minds – our Christian minds – question the idea of giving away control…
Only a life lived under the King, a life lived in the grace of the Kingdom, will turn over the untruth that we can make our own way. Only the Christian life – the life running alongside Christ – will convince us that submission is better than control!
We no longer look to the stars for our destiny, but still we have not found freedom. Take a recent benevolence family our church helped. The woman was elderly and came for food assistance. She had recently retired and her husband had retired a few years earlier. This woman was good friends with a young lady. The young lady had married and had two little girls, before her husband abandoned the family. The husband bouncing through relationships contracted HIV and his life spiraled out of control with drugs. The young lady – since she did not have any family – began to worry about her children if something were to happen. She asked her friend, the older woman, if she would take the girls… within a few months the young woman died in a car wreck. So the retired couple took the children. Unfortunately their finances were not prepared for two young children and they could barely make ends meet.
Listening to these words I worried about the little girls. How could they find peace and joy in life. Their DNA is awash with their father’s foolishness. Their life situation is mired in loss and poverty. What good is in their destiny? But I could not get away from the life of Christ, the life that turns over a world of sin. A vision that can bring light to dark, breathe life into death. In Christ our DNA, our nurturing, our destinies can be redeemed… yet these words, these answers will not fix the live of those little girls. The only way for hope to come is for us to follow Christ into their lives. Our life freed from the world’s bondage will set free the children of despair.
Now, please, before you move on, say a prayer for these little girls. Say a word for the retired couple. Ask God to raise the dead, to overturn destiny, to move to miracles… for His movement – and us to follow – is their only hope.
When we arrive in heaven there will not be a scan-tron test. We will not be asked who makes up the Trinity or who was swallowed by a whale. Instead the test will be whether Jesus knows us. When I arrive home, Megan and Ivy do not drill me with questions, instead they run to embrace me (at least Ivy does). They know me, because we have walked together. In the same way Jesus will know us if we follow him.
If you have not already heard, we will not have a Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser this year. Instead, for those who have need, we are going to sell coupon books. You can get more information by clicking here.