July 09, 2008

Looking beyond the conspiracies

I have been pouring over the links at Vedette, slowly grinding my way down the list at the instigation of my sister. My sister not only assembled the links, she has dozens more and has been happily passing them on to me. It's good from time to time, to review such material and be reminded that people in positions of power habitually misrepresent their personal agendas. Politics is a perfect career for a pathological liar.

But going through this material has also reminded me why I became a Christian in first place way back in the mid-70s. Our God, YHWH, El Shaddai, Creator of the Universe and all that is in it, is the God of broken people. He always has been, always will be. He finds us. We don't have to go looking for him. He opens the eyes of his chosen, but leaves the others blind. Why? I don't know why. I'm not God.

Consider John chapter 5. There are dozens of people lying around a pool waiting for an angel to stir the waters. In reality it was most likely a hot spring similar to the Old Faithful Geyser only prone to bubbling rather than shooting skyward. That does not change the reasons the people had gathered there, nor does it change the occasional miracle (or even miracles that were not miracles but just delusions) that had made the pool famous. It was a pool of water. It was famous for healing. To be healed you had to be the first one into the water after the water became turbulent.

Were the people sitting around the pool being deceived by the pool's reputation? After all, only one of them could be healed, and yet many of them came. There were probably food and drink vendors near the pool, and a few inns as well. I would expect to find some folks selling bottles of water from the pool and making a good business at it despite the fact that anyone who wanted could dip a cup into the pool on their own (maybe there were even a few sly folks selling specially blessed cups and bottles for just that purpose!). Nor would it surprise me if someday evidence came to light showing that priests of all the most popular religions at the time were making a bit of silver blessing bottles of water from the pool, people around the pool, and so on. For all any of us in the modern world know, the reputation of the pool might have been an elaborate scam being perpetuated by a local merchant's guild with the help of a few corrupt politicians and specifically designed to bring people into the area and improve everyone's profit margins.

And it is these situations that allow a conspiracy theorist to turn a nice profit as well: he goes out into the crowd, presents his evidence of delusion and deception, then collects an offering. None of that changes the nature of the deception, nor does it change the willingness of the people to believe. There they all were, and here we all are today, gathered up by the corrupt, the incompetent, and the immoral.

Jesus came along and healed ONE person from the crowd gathered around the pool. He neither confirmed nor denied the story of the angel and the power of the pool! He just told one of the people there to pick up his mat and walk away.

In the same way modern believers are chosen from among the broken people of the modern world. Remember Ephesians chapter 2 and Romans chapter 9? We do not choose God, he chooses us.

Yes, we are called to tell people, but the message we are called to tell them is not that Satan runs the world. Our message is not that Satan's most devoted followers are behind the establishment of the most powerful institutions in today's world. No, our message is much simpler: "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)