On a search for a better world, finding it in the most unlikely places
The world is screwed up. I’m sure I’m conveying no new information to you at this moment, but it’s the most apparent of all my intellectual gleaning over the last few days. Today is the anniversary of brazen acts of violence perpetrated against innocent life. In Florida, a claimant to Christianity has found book-burning to be his answer, and in all the noise and all the voices, I still hear nothing worth listening to. We have talking heads, and we have heads of state that act like talking heads, and we have talking heads above lecterns and in pulpits. Talk is cheap.
Where do we find the answers? For those that follow Jesus…where do you find your hope? If you have no foundation for your hope, how can it stand the scrutiny of a desperate world looking for hope, clawing, clamoring, begging, bleeding, crying out for hope. Is our hope then in storied steeples and hallowed halls, in the knowledge of men, in temples built by human hands, and institutions forged in the fires of division and oppression? I am a student of history, and the one overwhelming fact in the narrative of human history is our glaring inadequacy. Preachers and politicians will twist the truth. “Benevolent” organizations will act with malice and disregard to preserve the lifeless traditions of a time far in the past. Governments will practice violence and war, and bloodshed will come. The day will darken, and night will come. Indeed, from mountain to ocean, from hut to palace, from storefront to citadel, there is no hope for us if we choose to trust in the government or the “church”.
The answer I have found, simple and scorned, is summed up in the words of a long-dead poet…”I will listen to what God the LORD will say…” (Ps 85:8) Listen. Listen? The one thing I can so easily ignore. The one thing I rush by. The one thing the institutions and organizations can’t give me. The voice of a living and loving God.
Why can’t we spend more time listening? I believe it is because there is a solemn responsibility in listening. Hearing causes us to become a keeper of what is spoken, a bearer of the essence of the message conveyed. A veritable Word become Flesh. To hear the voice of the living God speaking into your soul means that you have become a bearer of His message, His Good News. It’s time to face up – we aren’t ready to become that, are we? We know that becoming a bearer of the good news means that much of what we call ours will be left behind. In the age of possession, letting go is the antithesis, the iconoclast, and he does not treat us gently.
Yet there is a power in abandonment, a power known only to those who dare to leave all for hope, a promise held forth that those who leave all they have behind shall posses (or maybe be possessed by) something beyond comprehension, something real. Life. Life to the fullest. Life known only to those who have died to obtain it. Life that grows and infects and heals and restores. Life that doesn’t end. The hope of those who truly seek. Life that flowed from a bloody Cross. Life that conquers death. A Kingdom without ending, borders, or limitations. A Way of life that leaves hate and fear in shreds…life to the fullest extent.
Life…but we shall, as we always have, ignore the Voice. We will go to a temple, and sing songs, and ignore the brokenness, both our own and our brothers. We shall pass resolutions, and elect talking heads and ingest chemicals to make the emptiness go away. We will wage our wars, shedding blood as if it was of no consequence. We shall shall rot in our apathy…but not me…
I will listen to Him, for He will speak peace into my soul. I will attend to the Voice, because it is the Voice of the only One who has come for me, and the more I listen, the more clearly I hear it. You may call me crazy, but I care not. I have heard the Voice, and I have heard hope. You can have your empty practices and your book-burnings and your observances. You can keep your governors and power-brokers. I’ll take life.
the suburban vagabond