June 09, 2015

A Storm of Change is Sweeping the Earth

For the past forty years I have spent every waking moment trying to understand the changes sweeping through our world. The chaos of the past two years is unlike anything I have ever seen and is so far beyond my worst case Armageddon scenario that I can no longer be sure I haven't missed a few important clues along the way. If our world, no...if God's people don't reverse course right here and now then we'd better hope Tribulation and Rapture theology is right because we are about to enter a dark age like nothing the world has ever seen. Your worst nightmares about the final days will look like a picnic compared to what's coming.

I am probably wrong. I always have been a little too paranoid. Nonetheless, when too many coincidences mount up and the everyday man on the street starts spouting nonsense then I know the shit has already hit the fan and we are all on the verge of being sprayed with sewage.

Let's start with firearms. I love being an American. I love having a safe full of rifles and pistols. I love being able to buy guns and ammo in half a dozen different stores within a ten minute drive of my house. A free people are allowed to own the weapons of their choosing, as many of them as they care to possess. An enslaved people is not allowed access to weapons because their overlords know they will be the very first targets those weapons are trained on. Over the past decade, despite an enormous effort to oppose it, Americans have become more free than at any time since the day after the passing of the 1934 National Firearms Act. This freedom is not enjoyed in every state, but in most states any adult with a clean criminal record can purchase a firearm, take it home, and even get permission to carry it with them everywhere they go. There are more training courses available now than at any time in our history. American firearm owners are now the best trained, best equipped standing army in the entire world. And all of that could vanish within the next eighteen months.

Next, let's talk social justice. Racism in America has become virtually non-existent. Interracial marriage is a daily occurrence. People of all ethnic backgrounds can be found working happily in every single field. The only barrier to advancement in today's America is your own ambition and personality. The color of your skin, the zip code where you were born and raised, the neighborhood you grew up in are by and large irrelevant. Not everyone goes to college and not everyone lives in a mansion on the side of a hill, but more people from more diverse backgrounds are working and succeeding now than at any time in our past. Even more remarkable, all of this success is taking place in the final days of one of the worst economic recessions in global history. True, many people are out of work, lack access to good education, or spend their days in a drug-induced euphoric trance, but the vast majority of us have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. We are so successful as a nation that our poor people are obese and our rich people spend a good portion of their earnings on frivolous pastimes like visiting every concert in the world held by their favorite musicians. Men, women, blacks, hispanics, asians, whites, homosexuals, straights, and transgender individuals can be found in dire poverty, fabulous wealth, and everything in between. This is it, people. What you are experiencing right now is the progressive utopia your grandparents did not dare dream to see. Unless of course, it all collapses in bankruptcy before year end.

What is this storm threatening to destroy the modern world? It has many layers, much complexity, and is attacking us both individually and collectively every single day of our lives. The process began over a century ago and has been so gradual in its development that we are now the proverbial frogs in a pot unaware that this comfortable warm bath is about to boil us into dinner for whoever it is has been tending the fire. I don't know who it is, and this is part of what worries me. If I could identify the cook, then we could tip the boiling water into the fire and throw steam in their face. Part of the problem is that the "cook" is neither a particularly diabolical individual nor an insidious secret conspiracy. Instead, there has been a dramatic cultural shift that has gone completely unnoticed by those who have become its victims. This shift has two parts, one high and one low.

The high part is the church. The Body of Christ on Earth. God's chosen people. You and I and everyone who claims to be a Christian. Not the Muslims nor the Jews, neither the Buddhists nor the Hindis. No other religious body in the world shares our sacred calling. You and I, the children of God, have a purpose, we have a sacred duty shared by no one else. Our lives are not our own. This gift of grace that brings us eternity also brings with it an important job that we have failed to follow through on. Do you really want to know who is to blame for the chaos in our world? It's not progressive politicians, it's not the Freemasons, it's not the Council on Foreign Relations, it's not a shadowy clique of extremely wealthy individuals with delusions of divinity. The real problem is you and I. As followers of Christ it is our sacred duty to help everyone around us. It does not matter if we like them. It does not matter if helping them cuts into our free time. It does not matter if helping them cuts into our entertainment budget, nor does it matter if helping them cuts into our life savings. It is our job to do everything in our power to make the world a better place, even if this impoverishes us, gets us sent off to jail, or gets us killed. Our job as a follower of Christ is not to keep up with the Kardashians, play computer games with our friends, or attend concerts by famous Christian performers. Our job is to heal the sick, clothe the homeless, and feed the poor. This is not an option, my brothers and sisters. This is not something we do after we make the car payment, pay our tithe, and set aside money for our summer vacation. Everything you or I have was given to us by God for one purpose: to make the world a better place. I'm not saying you should sell everything and join the homeless under a local overpass. I am saying you should get your ass down to that overpass with clothes, blankets, food, tampons, boxes of clean underwear, reams of clean socks, flashlights, batteries, portable radios, and anything else you can think of to make their lives a tiny bit better. This is not supposed to be a hobby, this is the entire purpose of our life on Earth! Yes, I mean you; not just me, not just your pastor, you personally!

So you're talking to your neighbor and she mentions they just found out her husband has cancer. Offer to cook them dinner. Not today, every single day until your pantry is empty or his therapy is complete. Some kid in your neighborhood was busted for selling drugs? Get yourself down to the prison and visit them. Tell them it's terrible what happened, but if they are willing to do the work to turn their life around then you are willing to take steps to ease the process. Don't do it once, do it once a week until they order you to leave them alone, the guards refuse to accept you, or they finally finish their sentence and return home. After they return home, visit them often, bring them dinner, call them up and ask how they're doing. Really listen to their concerns. Don't preach at them, don't read them the riot act, just listen. Yes, if they are truly insane then in the end they might kill you. But it is far more likely you will be the reason they turn their life around and become someone the entire community respects and admires. This is not the pastor's job, the court's job, the government's job, nor the probation officer's job. This is the sacred duty you and I accepted the day we accepted Christ as our lord and savior. We in the Body of Christ have abandoned our sacred calling. We have delegated the care and nurturing of our community to faceless bureaucrats appointed by corrupt politicians, both of whom are nothing more than parasites feeding off the taxes you and I are paying in order to do a job we were called by God to live our life doing. This is not an option. This is the entire reason Christ died on that cross to save you from your sins and empower you with the Holy Spirit. This is why he spent two nights in hell and rose again on the third morning. Your spiritual duty is not speaking in tongues and paying your tithe. Your sacred duty is the care and feeding of God's creation. Why is our world in chaos? Our world is in chaos because you and I have failed at the calling God set before us on the day he called us to repent and live anew.

The low part is the result of the failure of the high part. What happens when the Body of Christ fails in their sacred duty to tend the needs of God's creation? That creation dies beneath the weight of sin imposed by Adam's glib acceptance of the fruit Eve offered him. Greed, self-absorption, unrelenting anger, rebellion against morality, hatred of strangers, cruelty to animals, narcissistic compulsions to rape, pillage, or plunder, these are all the result of our base human nature. This is the animal inside us taking control over the rational mind God gave us and compelling us to destroy our own life along with the lives of everyone around us. In like manner, denial of reality in order to justify imposition of our collective will on non-conforming individuals is not our sacred calling. It is exactly the opposite. Any time we demand conformity to some pre-conceived notion we hold about civilized behavior we feed the animal in ourselves and in the people we are condemning. Thugs in our streets are acting out based on our failure to be a shining example of God's promise. True, it is their choice. No one is responsible for a criminal's behavior except that criminal individually. They make their own choices. You do not carry their guilt. However, that does not negate your sacred duty to lighten their burden to the greatest extent you are able. What is "fate"? What is "karma"? Karma is receiving back tenfold the disdain and condescension you have shown to others. Nothing more, nothing less.

This is what happens when God's people fail in their sacred duty to love their neighbor and provide for the well-being of strangers:
Fox News: Witnesses report media story on McKinney incident incomplete
Fox News: TSA whistleblowers describe culture of distrust
Fox News: ISIS captures 88 Eritrean Christians
Fox News: Attack on aid group triggers riots in Turkey
Fox News: Family members beat pregnant teen to kill baby
BBC: Inside Mosul, Life under ISIS
NJ 101.5: 61 arrested, ten police injured at concert
Daily Mail: ISIS executioner throws gay man from rooftop
Business Insider: Millennials lying about their daily diet is destroying fast food
Business Insider Australia: 8 of 10 men accused of shooting Pakistani student Malala released
Washington Examiner: Proposed regulations will make internet gun sites illegal
Vox: Radical college professor fears students are even more radical

And this was just as tiny fraction of the insanity. I fear this is only the leading edge of the overwhelming storm of anger and self-righteous violence that is coming. One of the reasons I have such a hard time posting these days is that there is so much happening that I cannot keep up with it. All of it relates back to the same cause: people are disenfranchised, alone, and afraid. This is exactly the reason God has called us out from among the bulk of humanity. Alleviating this misery is the sacred duty you and I were called to perform. Nurturing those in pain, empowering the disenfranchised, providing security to the fearful, these are the tasks God has called us to do. Our job is not to condemn Bruce Jenner for becoming Caitlyn. It is not our place to demand laws deciding who can and cannot marry. We are called to show the world by the example of our lives that there is hope, and through that hope, there is a better way to live. We have failed in that duty and the inevitable result is chaos sweeping across the world. How will the world respond? The world will respond in the same way it always has: oppression, control, and genocide. You and I can change the future. We can choose to elect responsible politicians, to help our struggling neighbors, to show respect to young people filled with anger, to lead by example rather than by dictate. Or, we can spend every day and night pursuing health, wealth, and happiness, oblivious to the chaos unfolding around us until it sweeps over us and destroys us.

If something does not happen to change the priorities of God's people then the world will assume they have the right to destroy us and God will allow it to happen. I don't know when. I don't know how much or how little time we have left. I only know that already this summer is worse than last summer and last summer was the worst I had ever seen. So I will blow this trumpet one more time. This is the moment of decision that I began to feel approaching over a decade ago. It is here, it is now, and there is no turning back.

Choose wisely. The fate of the world is in your hands.