Written by Gary Hoover, CUC member
Do you ever wonder how differently Jesus sees the world from the way others see it?
Do you often wonder how we can see the world like Jesus does?
What would our lives and our church look like if we could see the world the way Jesus see the world?
In Matthew 23 and 24, Jesus tells us exactly how he sees the world.
In chapter 23 Jesus pronounced “Seven Woes” against the leaders of his time and place. Jesus tells us that often the very people who are shaping our lives are harming us and not helping us.
Jesus says that the leaders of his day not only refused to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but prevented the people from entering into the Kingdom of Heaven also.
Who are the people who shape us spiritually today? Who do we pay attention to?
We are not informed and spiritually formed very much by Jesus.
We are informed and spiritually formed by a barrage of media that tell us all kinds of things about us and our world that simply are not true. Our world is designed to keep us out of the Kingdom of Heaven, even though we are sold products that we are promised will help us to be truly happy.
Yuval Harari in conversation with scholars Ivan Krastev and Timothy Snyder recently noted that one of the biggest changes of the past 30 years is how intensely our very sophisticated technology has been focused not on shaping the world outside of us, but at shaping the world inside of us.
For thousands of years the technology to shape our hearts and minds has been growing – from simple story-telling, to advertising, and now to constant multiple streams of digital information that leave us very little room for our own thoughts, let alone for the presence of Jesus.
Jesus sees the world very differently than most of us do. Jesus calls us rto himself, and to the love he embodies throughout time.
Matthew shows us in a nutshell how Jesus sees our world in Matthew 23:37 through 24:2. Here it is in the First Nations Version:
“Jerusalem, O Village of Peace!” He cried loud for all to hear. “You who kill the prophets and stone to death the ones sent to you! How I have longed to gather your children together, like an eagle gathers her young under her wings, but you would not have it. Look! Your Hao use has fallen and will be left in ruins! I speak from my heart, you will not see me again until you say ‘Blessed is the one who comes representing the Great Spirit!”
As Creator Sets Free (Jesus) made his way out of the sacred lodge, his followers began to point out to him all the buildings that surrounded the sacred lodge.
“Take a good long look, for I speak truth from my heart – all of these will fall to the ground. Not one log or stone will be left standing against another.”
Do you see how differently Jesus sees Jerusalem from the way the leaders of his day saw it? Even his own disciples were bewildered by this.
They saw buildings that represented generations of civilization. They saw edifices that they could not imagine ever being destroyed. But Jesus already saw their collapse. Within 40 years the building Jesus talked about were literally destroyed by the Roman Empire that already occupied Palestine.
But wait, there’s more! In Matthew 24 Jesus expands on how he sees the human story unfolding. Jesus teaches that there will be all kinds of continued an expanding trouble – wars and sorrows and troubles will abound.
Confusion will continue and even increase throughout time.
It is amazing how confusion and all kinds of suffering have increased even in the past 30 years – since the internet really took off and our minds and hearts have been inundated with what I call “disinfotainment.” We are often more confused and distressed than ever.
We are easily manipulated by those who – as Jesus said – do not enter into the Beloved Community and who prevent others from doing so as well.
But Jesus calls us to focus on Him and to live our lives within the community of God’s Love.
Jesus does not want us to think that life will be easy.
In fact, Jesus teaches that even amidst the suffering we find and enter the Kingdom of Heaven or Creator’s Good Road when we gather together within the loving protection of Jesus.
I paraphrase playwright Tennessee Williams like this:
“The world is a house burning down, and all you can take from it is love.”
Jesus calls us to pay attention to his love, and to live together in the Beloved Community especially as times become more difficult.
Central Union Church can and will be an ark, a lifeboat community, and the Beloved Community of Jesus come what may.
We find our identity, our loving energy, and our power in the presence of Jesus, who wants to gather all of his beloved children in and protect and nurture them.
Will you pay attention to Jesus?
Will you live in the presence of Jesus?
Will you help be the presence of Jesus at Central Union Church?
Love is the way of Jesus, now and forever.
Love never fails.