Saturday, 18 June 2016

From Doom & Gloom to Land of Hope & Glory

Doom and Gloom or Land of Hope and Glory

A lot of what I have been saying may look to be “doom and gloom” about the future. On the contrary as a Christian I -with millions of others – am a citizen of heaven, the real “land of Hope and Glory”.

I do want to advertise the seriousness of the threats facing the West. That is the true position

I also want to advertise the sure and certain hope that the God and father of our Lord, Jesus Christ will triumph. This is an important point not only for believers like myself, but also for sceptics. It is important for friend and foe of our Judeo-Christian culture alike. For the former it is a proper source of encouragement and strength – for foes it is not a threat, not a promise, it is just what is going to happen!

The point is that God really is all-powerful. As I wrote in the early posts God has let humans run with their choices – and the consequences. So we do not see him micro-managing the world. However he has – by the sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection of Jesus – done what was necessary to save humans from the eternal consequences. Also while he may not micro-manage, he does care intensely what happens, so he both continually works through people who chose to let him and also steps into history when things are going seriously bad.

The other factor, which I find most profound is this paradox: on one hand he cares about the well-being of people in this world; on the other he treats it as a selection ground for people to live with him in the next.

Jesus said “I am the Good Shepherd … I have come that you may have life; life in all its abundance”. Again wherever he trod as he preached: sickness, demon-possession and even death were rolled back. A powerful demonstration of his character, divine being, and concern for the ordinary people he rubbed shoulders with. Since then there is the continual chain of witness of people who have given him first place in their lives devoting themselves to helping other people, combating suffering and fighting against social evils like slavery, child labour and such like. So we have abundant proof of God's concern for human welfare here and now.

Also those who have let a personal relationship with Jesus blossom, know by repeated experience the sheer abundance of God's kindness, goodness and unearned generosity.

Sadly cults has arisen by preachers misrepresenting God's kindness for their own worldly ends. There have been snake-oil salesmen posing as Christian preachers from the beginning – just read Paul's exasperated outbursts in the latter part of 2 Corinthians! But in our time the “me” generation has generated a raft of distorted gospels encouraging people to “be in it for what they can get out of it”. Miracles? Sure I believe God still does them: to give his imprimatur to the gospel of Jesus, when he chooses that means. Actually from experience I know he sometimes does them just as gratuitous gifts to encourage his children … you might even say just “because he can!” But I also know he does not cure every Christian of every disease. To believe that requires rejecting the truth of ample evidence!

Perhaps we could picture God as a super-wise, super-caring parent. One that provided all good things necessary for the child, but did not spoil them. One who wanted the child develop their individuality, but still disciplined them. One who loved the child to be able go and play, but still made them stay in and do their homework.

The other side of the paradox is this: The New Testament has a major theme running through it saying essentially: “Our sufferings in this world are nothing compared to the glory to be revealed in heaven”. Paul even speaks of the opposition we encounter because of our Christian loyalty and outlook as producing a refined character. He uses the graphic image of it producing in us the dependability under pressure of the veteran soldier compared to the raw recruit.

So we are confronted with this scenario that even when evil seems to be winning, God still manages to work sifting out people. Giving them opportunity to choose Him rather than evil, and refining their character so that they will find it pure joy to meet him in person.

That has been a long winded way of saying this: God has already won the war, but individual battles may be won or lost depending on the people involved.

If those in the West do not chose to fight for the heritage they enjoy now, they may lose it. That would be a bad outcome for millions of people. But God would still find ways to let people chose him.

The Western Roman empire fell and went into the Dark Ages – but eventually emerged to what we see today. The Eastern Roman Empire won the battles at that time ans went on for nearly another thousand years, but then fell and is now Muslim. Who knows that a new empire, a benign one because it is Christian may emerge in China or Africa.

The point is this:
Like it or not God will win whatever happens to the West.
But we have a choice: To fight, under God, to bring our civilisation back from the brink.
For those who chose to fight, now that we have recognised the prospect of doom and gloom, we turn out faces to the land of hope and glory, and in its name consider what we can do.

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