Archives For October 2012
There is a force that drives history. It is a raging and chaotic machine that fears nothing and spares no one. It is everywhere, yet it is nowhere. Some call it evil, or cruel. Some call it indifferent.
Others simply call it Satan.
The valiant fight it, sacrificing everything at times. The cowards cling to it, shielded in a guise of power and status. Others are simply run down by its progress. Do not confuse it with death, for death is the exit, or transition to another mysterious country. Yet this force wields death like a terrible weapon of fear, intimidation, and leverage to accomplish its objectives.
Over time this machine has become oiled, fine tuned, and painted with bright welcoming colors, gleaming with the seductive light of nationalism, progress, and profit. Some bow to it, still their heads tilted towards their primary idols of vice, not wishing to appear ungrateful to either master.
At times, the reign of the machine is challenged. The battles are often short and bloody, merely an obstruction in the gears which grind their way onward. There are other times when the machine must stop, its wheels pushed back on course by those pushing it along.
But then there are times the machine breaks down. This is still merely a delay. Soon it is back on track, breaking the bones of the saints, the idealists, the poets, the dreamers, the naive sons and daughters of time.
There was once a man who stood infront of the machine, not asking it to stop. Tauntingly, he stared into its menacing eyes, laying down in its very path. The machine crushed him under its weight, thinking nothing it.
Soon the man became a legend, both revered and ridiculed. Those driving the machine claimed victory and still do to this day. But something had changed. Others stood before the machine. More and more, they came.
And they’ll never stop.
The machine rages on, more erratic than ever. Its campaign of bloodshed has been packaged and sold to the children who it orphaned. But more and more lay down before it.
And they’ll never stop.
The machine still rages, and so do we.
And we’ll never stop until the drivers join us, leaving no one to drive the machine.
Josh Garrels – “Farther Along”
It is at first frightening to abandon your raft of theological certainty and step upon the unfamiliar shore of Compassion For All Beings.
What do you think of when you imagine Heaven? If you’re like me, you start out with ‘superficial heaven’ with all the bells and whistles that would make it customized and perfect for you, including a few vices. Then, realizing that’s not appropriate, you might weed those things out and try to imagine all the important things like seeing your loved ones and being at eternal rest and peace. Then you might start to consider the elephant in the room.
It lasts forever.
How can that possibly not get boring? I made a deal with God a long time ago that after 10,000 years, I want out. Nuke me. Whatever it takes.
Okay, maybe Heaven isn’t really like forever forever. Maybe it’s just like a state of being where we’re not really conscious. Maybe we’re just like sucked up or absorbed back into the divine stuff we all came from.
But, wait a second. Is that really heaven then? We don’t even know we’re there? We might as well just die. What’s the difference? Maybe this is all just foolishness. Heaven’s probably not real at all. Dang it.
(If you’re asking yourself if I over-think things much, you deserve a cookie)
But what if Heaven means none of those other things? What if it meant a place where we can perceive of it, add to its riches, bring others with us, and witness the beauty and drama of it all, with plenty of time (but not too much time).
Wait, are you thinking what I’m thinking? Nah, it couldn’t be… right now could it?
You’re right, Heaven can’t be going on right now. We all have a lot of crap going on, and people are hurting and dying and stuff. Pretty poor excuse for heaven if you ask me. It feels more like hell sometimes than anything else. Sometimes it’s so bad that you’d think we don’t even need a real hell. We don’t need a hell because people have made a hell on earth for themselves.
Wait a second. So if we can bring about hell on earth, we can bring heaven to earth too, can’t we? Maybe that John Lennon chap was on to something.
Oh, what is that you say? There’s no point in heaven if it’s not some apple pie in the sky/socialist utopia? There’s no justice in the world if the jerks don’t finally burn in an endless lava factory/sit forever in a car dealership waiting room?
Maybe we should ask Jesus. Wait, someone already did? What’d he say?
“Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)
When Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God, it’s the same “Kingdom of Heaven” from the Gospel of Matthew. “Heaven” was a nice way of saying “God” that didn’t offend the Jewish audience of Matthew’s text. So, Heaven = God. Got it. Okay. What about the word “Kingdom”? What’s that all about?
Mark and Luke use the Greek term “Basileia” that we translate as Kingdom, which is most appropriately translated as “kingship,” “kingly rule,” “reign”, “queen”, or “sovereignty.” Okay, so Kingdom = a state of rule.
So, Kingdom of Heaven = Kingdom of God = Reign of God.
Wait, this has nothing to do with superficial heaven, does it…
If you want to go even further with this, God is known to be synonymous with love in many circles. At the very least, those who believe in God should admit that God represents the supreme personification of love. And also at the very least, skeptics (even if you don’t think religious types have displayed this love) should admit that honest theists perceive the divine as being the personification of love, the best we can all hope to be.
So, what if Heaven means inviting the reign of love within us, a love that overturns the reign of hell in our own life? What if Heaven wasn’t an eternally self-absorbed universe constructed around vanity, but was in fact a temporal existence with a distinct purpose. What if it wasn’t about existing forever, but about truly living now. What if life is not our own, but something given, something we participate in. What if life is a gift we receive and then give away, so that others may receive it from us before they give it away, and so on, endlessly? What if death is more than a cessation of breath? What if hell is also temporal, here and now, with a distinct vendetta against the motives of life and the rule of love?
The kingdom of heaven is now. Is it in you? If not, get the hell out.